SOUTH HAMILTON — When Tim Chaloux was 10, his mother took him to a dog breeder to select a pet. He looked over the puppies, spotted the runt of the litter, and made his choice.
“From a young age, he had this compassion,” his older brother Chris said in a phone interview Sunday.
The North Reading teen, looking forward to graduation from Pingree School in South Hamilton in June and college in the fall, was killed in a rollover crash on Route 128 early Saturday, State Police said.
Chaloux, 18, spent Friday night with his girlfriend and her family, then left from the North Shore for his father’s home in Plaistow, N.H., looking forward to a Saturday morning visit to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, where he planned to study.
His brother said Chaloux had sent a text to his parents around 11 p.m. Friday, saying he loved them and would see them in the morning.
Chaloux was killed when the 2011 Honda Civic he was driving veered off Route 128 South and into a wooded area near Exit 23 in Danvers, State Police said.
The loss devastated his parents, Kathy and Stan, and siblings, Chris, 26, and Kate, 23.
“With my little brother, there’s really nobody like him that I’ve ever met,” said Chris Chaloux, his voice thick with emotion. “He was my favorite person on the planet, and he was really all of ours. He had this very charismatic way about him.”
The loss was felt across North Shore communities served by Pingree School.
Buddy Taft, dean of students, said Chaloux was outgoing and popular, known by almost all of the small private school’s approximately 338 students, and already deeply missed.
Taft said many seniors and almost all of Chaloux’s teammates on the varsity baseball team came to the school Saturday, when it opened its doors to allow students and faculty to gather for support.
Many teens had a hard time accepting the sudden loss, he said. “Immortality is what they expect, so there’s a lot of heartache going on,” said Taft, 57. “A lot of searching, a lot of heartache. It’s going to be a very challenging week for us, a very challenging finish to the year.”
Pingree School was largely empty Sunday afternoon, with only a few students cleaning up after a conference for Asian-American student groups.
Connie Truong, a senior from Lawrence, said she met Chaloux at freshman orientation. Though the two were not close friends, she said his absence will leave a void in the school’s community.
“He was so charismatic and so very caring,” she said. “He could lighten the mood in any room.”
Judith Klein, director of communications, said the school would hold a meeting Monday night for parents helping their children deal with the loss. Tuesday morning, she said in an e-mail, a meeting will be held for all staff and students, followed by small group discussions.
Authorities believe Chaloux’s car left the highway and rolled over between 1 and 1:30 a.m. Saturday, State Police spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail.
He was not found for hours. Another motorist noticed the car and called 911 about 6:45 a.m. Saturday, Procopio said. Chaloux’s family reported him missing about 10 minutes earlier, Procopio said, when they realized the teen had not come home.
Procopio said Chaloux was wearing a seat belt. He declined to comment on factors that may have contributed to the crash but said a State Police collision reconstruction team is analyzing the evidence.
Captain Bob Pyburn of the Danvers Fire Department said firefighters arrived at the scene to find the car upside down near a cluster of trees alongside the highway.
Pyburn said firefighters used extrication tools to open a door and cut away parts of the car to remove Chaloux. He said the accident occurred on a “relatively straight” stretch of Route 128, but “there have been other accidents over the years in that stretch of road.”
“Generally most of the accidents that happen in that area are due to the fact that there’s an on- and off-ramp there,” Pyburn said. “Generally they’re minor in nature.”
Chris Chaloux said a funeral will be held at Cota Funeral Home in North Reading, but the service cannot be scheduled until his brother’s body is released by the state medical examiner.
The Chaloux family and Pingree School officials described Tim Chaloux as a young man with a gift for empathy and kindness, someone who saw the best qualities in everyone and tried to show those qualities to others.
“I’ve never met anyone who intuitively understood people as he does,” Chris Chaloux said. “It was unique; it was just this unbelievable natural ability to ‘get’ people, and this capacity for love.”
He said despite the eight-year age gap, his little brother understood him well and was a close confidant, as he was for many friends.
Taft said Chaloux worked hard academically and was a talented athlete who joined the varsity baseball team as a junior, but it was his generosity of spirit that was most remarkable.
“So often in high schools, we have kids who want to put other people down, and for whatever reason Tim wasn’t one of those people at all,” Taft said. “He wanted to make everyone’s day better.”