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Jun 27, 2012 9:54 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Family, Friends Hold Vigil In Honor Of Cameron Nicholls

Jun 27, 2012 1:17 PM

Grasping white and red roses and flickering candles, friends and classmates gathered at dusk at the East Quogue Village Green on Tuesday night to share memories of a young man they said lived life with great vigor.

The vigil marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Cameron Nicholls, the 18-year-old Quiogue resident who was killed tragically in a car accident on June 26, 2011, just hours after he graduated from Westhampton Beach High School. He was killed on Lewis Road in East Quogue, near the Village Green, after the car in which he was a passenger hit a parked BMW and flipped over. The driver of the car was originally charged with DWI, though that charge was later dropped after toxicology reports revealed that he had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the single-car accident.

Cameron’s mother, Stephanie Nicholls, spoke at the vigil in front of more than 50 people who came to honor Cameron’s memory. Ms. Nicholls thanked her son’s friends and the local community for the support they have provided her in the past year.

“Cameron was a happy person, and his life was too short,” Ms. Nicholls said. “But he lived his life. He knew himself and he was comfortable in his own skin. He was a charitable person who always wanted to help others.”

Cameron’s friends said they remembered him for his energy, his accepting nature and the way he was able to befriend anyone, no matter how different from himself. They recalled his laugh, his love of the ocean, how he refused to quit windsurfing even after breaking his arm, and the influence his charismatic personality had on those around him.

“Seeing all his best friends here keeps his memory alive,” said 18-year-old Joseph Cappabianca of Speonk, Cameron’s close friend since the tenth grade, during the vigil.

Pictures of Cameron hung from trees near the fountain in the town park, yards from the small sapling, portrait and plaque that were recently dedicated to him by Southampton Town. Members of the Westhampton Beach High School choir sang a song written for a lost friend.

“He wouldn’t want us to be sad about it; he would want us to be happy and remember all the great times we had,” said Frank Trentacoste, 20, of Riverhead, who said he became good friends with Cameron on the first day they worked together at T.J. Maxx.

Vicki Mackowka, 18, another close friend of Cameron who organized the vigil along with Krissy Hoefer, said she hoped the vigil would tighten the bond among those who knew Cameron.

“With the support of all of his loved ones and hearing his name—you just know he’s still here in spirit,” Ms. Mackowka said. “There’s a community and we’re all standing beside each other and helping each other through the hard times.”

Xavier Sagan, 19, of Southampton and his younger siblings—Simonne, 16, and Lucien, 13—recalled the happy times they spent with Cameron during their childhood. They, along with another close friend, JP Amato, 19, of Queens, shared a memory of Cameron stretching an extension cord from his house to play Nintendo while they camped in a tent in the backyard. They also remembered how Cameron would watch the same movies over and over again, and how he was the first to arrive at the carnival in town, and the last to leave.

“Cameron always buzzed around at a thousand miles an hour,” Mr. Amato recalled. “I was always trying to keep up.”

Mr. Amato said he and Mr. Sagan met Cameron at baseball camp when they were young, and he recalled the time when they went out in a kayak near Cameron’s house. They struggled to paddle back to shore against the current.

“I know he would want us to live for him, and keep going just like that day on the kayak, because if we didn’t keep paddling, we would’ve been caught up in the current and we would’ve never made it home,” Mr. Amato said. “Cameron already made it home. He has done his paddling. It’s our turn to paddle for Cameron and to live life with the same vigor. I know he’s still paddling at a thousand miles an hour.”

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rip cameron
By tlayburn (1), Hampton Bays on Jun 27, 12 4:25 PM