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Ward Melville High School falls silent in wake of senior's death

Police said Matthew Grimaldi, 18, of Lake Grove,

Police said Matthew Grimaldi, 18, of Lake Grove, was impaled on branches from a fallen tree after he fell Sunday evening, May 25, 2014, at Hulse Landing Beach. Credit: Facebook, James Carbone

The hallways of Ward Melville High School fell silent Tuesday, two days after senior Matthew Grimaldi tumbled from a bluff to his death.

Somber students walked the hallways of the East Setauket school on the first day back since the accident Sunday.

"No one's talking to one another; the lunchroom is quiet, the hallways are empty," said Vincent Rosselli, 16, a junior.

Riverhead police said Grimaldi, 18, of Lake Grove, was at a party in Wading River on a section of Hulse Landing Beach, owned by the Oakwood on the Sound Homeowners Association, when he and other youths climbed the bluff. On the way down, Grimaldi lost his footing around 6:55 p.m. and became impaled on a downed tree limb, police said. He was pronounced dead at Peconic Bay Medical Center. Riverhead police declined to release additional information Tuesday about the fall.

"It sucked the life out of school," said Keshav Subramanian, 16, also a junior, of Grimaldi's death.

Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said the accident highlighted the dangers of the North Shore bluffs, which have suffered from even more erosion after superstorm Sandy.

Anker said she is crafting legislation to create a task force to look at issues including expediting bulkhead permits and the planting of proper vegetation to reduce erosion.

Grimaldi was bound for Clarkson University in upstate Potsdam, where he planned to study engineering, said his uncle, Rob Luizzi of Queens. Grimaldi and his twin brother, John, were scheduled to graduate June 29.

Visiting hours are 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Branch Funeral Home, 551 Route 25A in Miller Place. A funeral Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church, Crown Acres Road, Centereach.

With David M. Schwartz

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