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Christopher G. Arruda

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Christopher G. Arruda, 30; 'always wanted to help'

It was Christopher G. Arruda's dream to drive a truck.

Ever since Chris was a little boy, he had loved cars and trucks. He collected model cars, hoarded stacks of car magazines and worked in the pit crew for friends racing at Seekonk Speedway.

In the backyard of the house on Blackrock Road in Coventry where he lived with his mother and grandmother, he kept a white Ford Ranger that he equipped with big monster-truck tires. His "baby" was an old ugly brown Pontiac that he got as a 16-year-old and only sold last year.

And about seven years ago, Chris got a job as a truck driver for D&N Equipment, of Johnston. "That really made him happy," says his mother, Patricia Arruda.

Keith Danna, of Coventry, met Chris at the old Bess Eaton doughnut shop on Tiogue Avenue, where "car guys" used to hang out. Chris was known for his "bumblebee car" -- a yellow-and-black Dodge Aspen.

"He's great with kids and dogs," Danna said. "He was just a good guy. Not too many people don't know him. He's got more friends than you can believe."

Chris, 30, was talkative and generous. He was strong, too. He once broke his ankle getting out of his truck and kept walking, even showing up for work the next day when others told him to take it easy.

"He'd see people broken down on the side of the road and he'd stop," Patricia Arruda said. "I told him, 'You're crazy in this day and age to stop.' He'd say, 'Ma, don't worry about it.' He always wanted to help."

Even on the night he died, Chris thought of others. Patricia Arruda said she heard from people who were at The Station that her son made it out of the club, but went back inside to help people escape.

Chris's other passion was music. His favorite was Pink Floyd, and he also liked '80s rock bands. He was a regular at The Station and was friendly with an AC/DC tribute band that played there.

"He had a sad side, too," Patricia Arruda said. "Besides driving the truck, I don't think he really ever found the happiness he wanted. He had gone through a bad time and was just starting to act like himself."

-- Meaghan Wims, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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