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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare Comes True

NIcholas Paggi and his mother mother Helga
NIcholas Paggi and his mother mother Helga (GoFundMe)

A parent’s worst nightmare is when the phone rings in the middle of the night, especially if you have children that are away at college or not living at home.

In those few seconds it takes to answer the phone your mind races with terrible thoughts and you take a deep breath before saying “hello.”  You then breathe a tremendous sigh of relief when it’s a wrong number or nothing to be concerned about.

For Helga Paggi it was not a phone call but rather the sight of two Toms River Police officers at her door last week that signaled something was wrong and in this case very wrong.  Her brilliant and talented 24-year old son Nicholas had died during what was a tragic accident and the theme of my segment today. Even the smartest of kids do dumb things because they’re still kids.

Jersey Shore MIT grad dies falling from library dome

Nick Paggi was the valedictorian of his 2011 graduating class at what is now Donovan Catholic High School.  He got a perfect score on his SAT’s and had his choice of colleges but once he received his acceptance letter from Massachusetts Institute of Technology there was no question where he was headed.

Nick graduated from MIT with a dual bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Physics and Computer Science and stayed in Cambridge after getting a job as a software engineer.

I remember Nick as a little boy because my daughter sailed with him at the Beachwood Yacht Club.  He did very well in regattas and he would sail competitively into college and still enjoyed it as a hobby.  By all accounts Nick Paggi’s future was (stealing a quote here) “so bright he had to wear shades.”

However last Wednesday he died after slipping and falling while trying to climb the roof of the domed Engineering library at MIT in what appears to be a stunt gone wrong. Very wrong.  Smart kids still do dumb things because even at 24 they are kids.

Visitation is today from 3 p.m. – 5 p .m. and 7 p.m. -9 p.m at Anderson and Campbell Funeral Home on Main Street in Toms River with the funeral tomorrow.  The family is going to establish a scholarship in his name to be awarded to a Donovan Catholic senior who plans to pursue a degree in physics or computer science.  A GoFundMe page has been set up and donations to the Nicholas Paggi Memorial Scholarship can also be sent in care of his brother Alex at 30 Brooks Road in Toms River.



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