Families mourn loss of father, brother in Amherst car crash

  • Ailton Monteiro talks about his friend and cousin, Ailton Correia and Euclides Almeida, both of whom died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A memorial at the site on West Street where Ailton Correia and Euclides Almeida died in a car crash Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cleiton Almeida talks about his father, Euclides Almeida, as a family member holds a photo of him. Euclides Almeida and his passenger,  Ailton Correia, died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A memorial at the site on West Street where Ailton Correia and Euclides Almeida died in a car crash Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ana Sofia Semedo, remembers her boyfriend, Ailton Correia, who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sidilene Pereira, Silene Correia, both sisters to Ailton Correia and Henrique Da Veiga, Ailton's father, remember Ailton Correia who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Henrique Da Veiga, remembers his son Ailton Correia who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ailton Correia and Euclides Almeida. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Ailton Correia and Euclides Almeida SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Henrique Da Veiga, holds a picture of his son, Ailton Correia who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A photograph of Ailton Correia in his father’s home in Amherst. Ailton Correia died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Henrique Da Veiga, holds a picture of his son, Ailton Correia, who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ulisses Marques, a close friend, holds a picture of Ailton Correia who died in a car crash on West Street in Amherst Tuesday night. The car’s driver, Euclides Almeida, also died in the crash.  STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/4/2020 4:11:51 PM

AMHERST — Even after moving to Holyoke to live with his girlfriend, Ailton Correia made sure he returned to Amherst often to visit his family and friends, bringing them humor and happiness, according to his sisters.

“He was always laughing and always making jokes, and singing and making songs for me,” said Silene Correia, one of his eight siblings. “He was friendly with everybody, and everybody knows him as a good guy and a loving person.”

Sidilene Pereira, another sister, said that if there was a get-together and a microphone to be found, Correia would grab it and use it, illustrating his outgoing and enthusiastic personality. “He was the joy of the party,” Pereira said.

Remaining close to other Amherst residents who have immigrated from Cape Verde, Correia on Tuesday brought his vehicle, in need of some minor repairs, to Euclides Almeida’s home in a cul-de-sac off West Street, knowing Almeida’s skills as both a mechanic and general handyman.

But when the necessary auto parts ordered didn’t arrive on time to get the work done, Almeida, 42, and Correia, 28, opted to drive together back to Holyoke, a trip that ended a short distance away when they were both killed in a head-on collision on West Street.

That crash, around 7:42 p.m. in the area of 916 West St., near Hampshire College, remains under investigation. A preliminary investigation indicates the Datsun they were in was traveling south, crossed the double yellow line and crashed head-on with a northbound minivan, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

For the families and friends of both victims, grieving continued in two places Thursday afternoon — in the garage at Almeida’s home, where lawn chairs were set up and the car that was supposed to have been repaired was still parked in the driveway, and at Butternut Farm apartments, where Correia’s family set up a memorial inside their home with his photo and candles on either side.

Almeida, who came to Amherst more than 16 years ago, leaves his wife, Neusa, and three children, Cleiton, 19, Claidine, a student at Amherst Regional Middle School, and Tiago, 3.

“He was a very, very good father, and he loved his three kids very much,” said Almeida’s father-in-law, Ulisses Marques, who had been visiting both Almeida and Correia just moments before they left for Holyoke on Tuesday night.

“He was a good dad. He was always smiling,” Cleiton Almeida said of his father.

Otis Marques, a cousin to Euclides Almeida, said, “he always wanted the best for his family.”

One of those who knew both men well is Ailton Monteiro, who is Correia’s cousin and one of Almeida’s childhood friends.

Monteiro said Almeida could fix cars and houses and was a person people trusted to fix just about anything. He had recently been working at Ideal Movers in Hadley.

Monteiro said he has always called Almeida “Kulitxa.”

“Kulitxa and I basically grew up together on Cape Verde before moving to Amherst,” Monteiro said.

Meantime, Correia was studying industrial design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, planning for one more year in school in which he and his girlfriend, Ana Sofia Semedo, would move to Boston.

Semedo said Correia was taking a gap year and working at C&S Wholesale Grocers in Westfield to try to save money so he could finish his studies.

Henrique Da Veiga, Correia’s father, said he will remember how much love his son gave him,.

“He loved me, he was good friends, and we talked on the phone all the time,” Da Veiga said.

Not long ago, Correia, who came to Amherst 11 years ago, had returned to Cape Verde, where he took pictures with all his friends and family there, giving something for them to hold onto and cherish forever, Pereira said.

But she also noted that her brother had so much left to accomplish.

“He had many, many dreams to fulfill,” Pereira said. “He had big dreams for his family.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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