A teenager’s attempt at a prank turned deadly when the lit sparkler he had allegedly tossed into a room set off a fire that engulfed an entire apartment and killed a 19-year-old girl.
Kristen Milano was sleeping in her family’s apartment in Southington, Connecticut, on Sunday, when Eric Morelli, a friend of Milano’s brother, allegedly threw a lit firework through an open window.
Morelli’s friends have said that he rode to the Summer Brook Apartments on his moped early Sunday morning, and reportedly threw the sparkler into the room in an attempt to get his friend’s attention.
Instead, the sparkler set off a fire. Milano died of smoke inhalation.
Milano’s brother had been sleeping downstairs at the time. Friends have said that the family thought Milano was still out as the fire raged through their house; only when emergency responders told them that she had been found did the reality of the situation emerge.
On Tuesday, Morelli was arrested and charged with manslaughter and three counts of reckless endangerment.
In the aftermath of the incident, neighbors have said that they are only “semishocked” that Morelli was involved.
“He just goes off and does what he wants to do at that time,” said neighbor Brian Goralnik, who grew up with Morelli.
“At some point, you would think that maybe he’d find the right light, the right way, and he just couldn’t find that,” Goralnik added.
Morelli paid bond and left jail Tuesday night.
His attorney has released a statement expressing that Morelli and his family are “extremely sorry over what has happened.”
“This is particularly difficult as Eric was a long-time friend of Kristen,” the statement continued. “Eric never intended to harm anyone, and he is very remorseful about this tragedy.”
Milano’s funeral will be held on Friday.
The 19-year-old had been attending Middlesex Community College and pursuing her dream of becoming a radiologist.
In an online obituary, she was remembered as a “free-spirited girl who had the special gift of instantly making you feel special and putting a smile on your face.”