Mother & son killed: They 'just wanted to enjoy life'

Griswold - Darlene A. Miles wanted to ring in the new year with her only son.

Miles, known to family and friends as "D," was home alone on New Year's Eve, mourning the loss of an uncle who had recently died in Maine. Her 18-year-old son, Patrick J. Perkins Jr., was in nearby Jewett City visiting his aunt.

"We believe she called Patrick and asked him to be with her and went to pick him up," said Chad Crump of Montville, Perkins' uncle. "That's the type of kid he was: a comforter."

Mother and son were both killed Thursday night when the car they were riding in left the road and struck a tree at the intersection of Route 138 and Taylor Hill Road, less than 2 miles from their home on Leha Avenue. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.

It was 39 minutes before midnight.

Miles, 38, and Perkins lived at 104 Leha Ave. with Miles' longtime partner and Perkins' father, Patrick J. Perkins Sr. On New Year's Eve, the senior Perkins was out late plowing snow after Thursday's earlier storm, Crump said.

State police in Montville, who are investigating the crash, said both mother and son were wearing seat belts. While police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash to call, they do know that Miles was driving a 1999 Volkswagen Passat east on Route 138 near Taylor Hill Road when the car veered off the road and struck a tree.

Crump, who is the elder Perkins' brother, stood outside the darkened family home on the U-shaped Leha Avenue Friday night, speaking on behalf of the family. The elder Perkins and Miles had been together for 20 years. They had gotten engaged but never married, Crump said.

Patrick Perkins Sr. "is holding up so far for everybody else," said Crump. "Those are the only two people in his life, and his only child, too."

Friends and neighbors remembered the younger Perkins as expressive, direct and outgoing.

"He didn't really mind telling you if you were wrong or right, but he always had a smile on his face," Crump said.

Mother and son both loved music, Crump said, "any bit of music, anything to make them happy. They were caring and loving people and just wanted to enjoy life."

Miles worked as a home-health aide for 20 years and was a devoted partner and mother, Crump said. Her son, who turned 18 on Dec. 9, was a junior at Griswold High School and was following in Crump's footsteps, planning to work in construction. He was also considering going into the military or working for the state police.

Perkins was always helpful, friends and relatives said. Next-door neighbor Pat Martell said that when their dog, Penny, got loose, the teenager would retrieve her and bring her back to the house.

"The thing that impressed me the most," added Martell's husband, Donald, "was that he was very respectful to my wife. That matters a great deal."

The Martells' grandson, who is not quite a teenager, had just seen Perkins on Thanksgiving. The two boys would often play basketball, and the younger boy looked up to Perkins, the couple said.

Other neighbors on Leha Avenue said they socialized and shared backyard picnics and the occasional pool party with the family.

Former neighbors who lived next door to the family in a duplex on Dunham Street in Norwich for 10 years said father, mother and son were friendly and hard-working.

Dianne Handy of 153 Dunham St. babysat for Perkins. He loved movies, she said. She remembered Miles as "a good person." Handy's son, John, now 29, recalled playing basketball and video games with Perkins.

The duplex landlord, Tina Main of Norwich, said in an e-mail that the deaths were "a tragic loss."

"Obviously, we knew Pat and Darlene's son growing up through the years and he was such a giving and caring child," she wrote. "Always willing to lend a helping hand no matter if it was playing with our son, who was younger than him, or just shoveling snow.

"Darlene was always a 'straight-to-the point' person and a fantastic mother."

Perkins worked at Ocean State Job Lot in Griswold. A store manager said Friday that employees could not comment.

The Gagne Piechowski Funeral Home at 490 Voluntown Road, Jewett City, is in charge of arrangements, with a funeral date and time to be determined, Crump said.

A viewing is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home, with a reception to follow from 7 to 9 p.m. at the VFW hall on Taylor Hill Road in Jewett City, he said.

On Thursday night the Griswold fire company had just finished responding to a nearby accident on Edmund Road when it was called to the crash scene on Route 138.

Other companies that responded included ambulance crews from Lisbon and Voluntown along with two paramedics from American Ambulance.

State troopers are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to contact Trooper Randy Silvestri at (860) 848-6500.

p.daddona@theday.com

m.bard@theday.com

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