Charged Driver Was Victim’s Friend, Roommate

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CLIFTON TOWNSHIP -- We learned today that two men involved in a violent crash in Lackawanna County this past weekend were long-time friends and roommates. One of those men is dead. The other is behind bars facing charges for his death.

Michael Evans, 33, grew up in Archbald but was living in Moscow with his friend of 15 years Matthew Gajdys. Early Saturday morning both were thrown from the SUV Gajdys was driving outside Moscow, and Evans didn't make it.

Evans' family told Newswatch 16 the charges against their son's best friend bring closure but also means two families have each lost a son.

Police said Evans was thrown from the Jeep on Route 435 outside Moscow, pinned underneath it, and killed instantly.

The driver was Matthew Gajdys, who's now behind bars for his friend's death and facing homicide by vehicle charges.

"Matt was going through some personal problems, and he was living with Mike for a while. Again, that was mike, he would want to do whatever he could to help. They've been friends for a long time," said Jim Evans, Michael Evans' father.

Evans' parents wanted to talk with Newswatch 16 only hours after their son's long-time friend was charged, and only days after the crash that's changed their lives forever.

According to court papers, Gajdys made a left turn onto Phillips Road right into the path of a tractor-trailer. State police suspected Gajdys was drunk and arrested him a few days later.

"Obviously, we're investigating, still collecting evidence, still conducting interviews. However, everything came together quickly in this case and we were able to go forward with the arrest," said Trooper Connie Devens of the state police.

Michael Evans' family saw video of Gajdys in handcuffs, headed for his arraignment Tuesday night and expected closure.

"When we saw that I didn't get the reaction I thought I would get. I thought there would be satisfaction, happy that they got him, he'll pay for what he did, and when I saw his face in the picture you put online, it made me realize that they're victims there too," added Jim Evans.

Jim and Kimberly Evans will bury their son this weekend, and they said he'll leave lots of legacies with them, but perhaps the most important one is for those who see this story.

"I would never want anyone else's family to go through this, I just wish people would think, before getting behind that wheel. I wish they would take just one minute to say, 'Could this possibly change my life today?'" said Kimberly Evans, Michael's mother.

Gajdys, is behind bars at the Lackawanna County Prison on $250,000 bail.