From an early age, Ryan Dupuis demonstrated a unique knack for mechanical skills. As a kid, he would take things apart and put them back together, always eager to learn just how something worked. As he grew older, he would immerse himself in YouTube videos while working in the garage on a project.
“If he put something together wrong, he took it back apart and tried again,” Ryan’s younger sister, Payton Dupuis, said. “He never gave up. That’s truly how he learned and taught himself everything he knew.”
His true love, she said, was working on anything with a motor. And as recently as six months ago, Ryan shared a dream with his family to open his own shop one day. They knew if that’s what he set his mind on, he could do it.
That dream and so many others were ultimately cut short on the night of Feb. 26, when Mr. Dupuis died in a single-vehicle crash on Sound Avenue. Riverhead Town police said his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree near Northville Turnpike. He was 26.
Ryan’s family, including his sister and parents Kevin and Michele, remembered him this week as a “selfless, amazing, caring, funny and smart guy.” In an interview with the News-Review, via e-mail, the Dupuis family shared stories of Ryan and described some of his passions, such as bowling, boating, cars and racing. He was the “wild child” as a youngster who was always outside playing with friends and who loved to ride quads, dirt bikes and bicycles.
Ryan, who lived in Aquebogue, worked at multiple mechanic shops as a teenager and moved onto a career as a journeyman lineman. He worked most recently for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049 and was on a path toward following his father’s footsteps to become a general foreman.
Ryan’s family said he was a hard worker who had been out in “endless storms.” Even on those long days, he still found time and energy to keep working at home on bikes or whatever project he had going at the time.
Ryan became a journeyman lineman following an approximately three-year apprenticeship with Asplundh, a Philadelphia based company that specializes in line clearance services to the utility industry. He was about four months into the start of his career.
“My mother and father were and still are so extremely proud of him for all the hard work he’s gone through over the last few years working for the company,” Payton said.
Ryan had a passion for racing and competed at a drag racing event known as Diesel Nationals until it closed a few years ago. He tried to find similar places to go, but there were limited opportunities, his family said. His sister said she plans to one day race his truck down a drag strip in his honor to remember what he loved. The family also hopes to one day find a piece land that can accommodate a drag racing event in Ryan’s memory.
When he wasn’t working in the garage, Ryan loved to be out on a boat. He enjoyed fishing or simply cruising on the water with his friends. He loved bowling so much he wouldn’t hesitate to head to a bowling alley by himself.
Ryan would always ask his sister and her boyfriend if they wanted to go bowling together. Oftentimes Payton said she had a test to study for the next day or an upcoming class and declined. Looking back now, she wishes she could have said yes every time.
A 2014 graduate of Riverhead High School, Ryan had a close group of friends growing up and they remained tight in the ensuing years. Ryan’s mom referred to the group as “the motley crew.” His best friends were like his brothers.
In high school, Ryan was known for his gray Dodge Durango that his friends nicknamed the “Dingo” and his “fast Cummins turbo diesel” race truck. He was one of the first kids in his group of friends to get a license and would always drive everyone when they set out to find some fun.
No matter what type of project Ryan was working on, he never hesitated to stop at a moment’s notice if a friend or relative needed him for something.
“He would take his own shirt off of his back for anybody, a friend, a stranger, it didn’t matter who it was, he was there,” Payton said. “He was the kind of person you could call and he would be there in less than a minute.”
She remembered her brother as the “funniest, sweetest guy ever.”
On the night of the crash, Ryan was doing what he loved: bowling. He was with his sister and talked about working on a dirt bike and motorcycle when he got home. He was traveling home when the crash occurred.
Payton was with her boyfriend when she saw an ambulance turn toward Sound Avenue. She instantly thought of her brother and told her boyfriend to follow the ambulance. As they came upon the crash, she could see a tiny piece of her brother’s red car between the flashing lights.
“My brother is truly my best friend,” she said. “I feel like a literal piece of my entire life is gone. And so do my parents. I not only lost my brother, but my dad lost his best friend and my mom lost her sweet little Ryry.”
Services for Ryan were held last Thursday and Friday McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. The family said memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice Camp Good Grief. They said people should remember him for the “great guy he truly was.”