Family members of the late Matt Caputo recently made a $1,250 donation to the Thornhurst Volunteer Fire and Rescue Dive Team in his memory. In 1990, Matt tragically drowned after a boating accident on Moosic Lake. Divers from the team were able to retrieve his body, allowing the family to have some closure after the terrible event. The Caputo family appreciated the efforts of the dive team, so to honor Matt’s memory while also raising awareness of the importance of the dive team, they decided to make the donation.
Matt was the son of Betty Caputo, who passed away in 2007 after a battle with cancer, and Joseph A. Caputo, a retired school principal, who is 83 years old and resides in Dunmore. Matt and his four siblings--Angie, Joe, Chris and Mary--grew up in Scranton’s Hill Section. He attended St. Anthony's Elementary School in Dunmore and graduated from Bishop O'Hara High School in 1987. During his years at Bishop O'Hara, Matt excelled in football, wrestling, and weight lifting. He also attended Fordham University and had aspirations of being a physical education teacher and football coach because he wanted to share his passion and love of sports with children of younger generations.
According to one of Matt’s sisters, he had a dynamic personality and had a positive effect on everyone he came into contact with. He believed in helping people and was always willing to lend a hand. He was a person of great faith who touched many lives in his 21 years on this earth. “We are all better people for having known him,” she said.
The tragic and premature ending to Matt’s life occurred in while he was attending a party over Memorial Day weekend at a friend's house at Moosic Lake. “He decided to go for a boat ride with a friend later that evening and for some reason he stood up, the boat overturned, and he could not swim because his muscles started cramping from the cold temperature of the water and because he was so muscular. His friend swam to shore to get help but by the time help came, he had drowned,” explained Matt’s sister-in-law, Christina.
“He was submerged in the water for a week before the volunteer divers from Thornhurst were able to recover his body. Our family is so grateful to those men who went into that water day in and day out to find Matt and give our family the closure we so desperately needed,” she added.
The Thornhurst Fire and Rescue Dive Team is one of only two dive teams in Lackawanna County. The dive team has recently undergone a revitalization leading to increased participation of qualified divers, the purchase of upgraded equipment, and increased training, with some divers receiving instructor certification. The Dive Team captain is Daniel Kasulaitis, and, Jim Howley, one of the founding volunteers who played a role in the recovery of Matt’s body, is still a member.
The Caputo family hopes that their donation will raise awareness of the service the dive team provides to the people of the North Pocono region and beyond, and that folks will be inspired to make their own donations. “We just want to get the word out so they get the donations they need to keep the dive and rescue team going. I hope no one needs them but unfortunately, they are very necessary,” said Christina.
In addition to the recent donation to the dive team, the Caputo family honors Matt's memory is by sponsoring the Matt Caputo Scholarship Award, which is given to a senior at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore who emulates Matt's character. There is also a Matt Caputo Fitness Center located inside Holy Cross High School that was funded through money raised by his mother, Betty, by coordinating a 5K run/walk for ten years. In addition, Matt’s legacy lives on through Chris and Christina’s son, Matt, who was named for his late uncle and who carries on his tradition of sportsmanship and excellence on the football field at North Pocono High School.
Donations to the dive team can be made by calling 570-842-2235 or sending a check made out to the Thornhurst Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, 351 Old River Rd., Thornhurst, PA 189424.