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Cape Cod tattoo artists help family, friends honor man killed in motorcycle crash

Family and friends honor man killed in hit and run crash with matching tattoos
Family and friends honor man killed in hit and run crash with matching tattoos 02:23

By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV

HYANNIS - A group of Cape Cod tattoo artists stepped up for a local family that is still grieving the loss of their loved one.

"The experience was so moving," told Mark Corliss, owner of the Spilt Milk tattoo parlor in Hyannis. "I'm still feeling kind of the energy from it. The smile on people's faces that you could tell really needed a smile."

Eighteen-year-old Sam Needham took his father's motorcycle out for a spin last week. That's when the Barnstable teen was struck and killed by another vehicle. Police arrested an Ipswich man in connection with the case. Richard Collins is charged with vehicular homicide and fleeing the scene.

"He always brought light to every room he walked into," said Sam's sister Emma Needham, "Worst day of my life, absolutely. Worst phone call to ever receive. My dad was the one to tell me, and those words are replaying in my mind when I go to bed at night. Sam is no longer with us."

Needham's family wanted to do something to honor Sam. The group of 22 people contacted Corliss, asking to have a special tattoo done for all of them.

"Jack [Sam's brother] had given me a photo of a boy sitting on the moon fishing, and it had the fishing rod bent," described Corliss, "He wanted the words, 'I'm good,' written under the moon."

Sam Needham tattoo
Tattoo designed to honor Sam Needham, killed in a motorcycle crash CBS Boston


"His response was always, 'I'm good,'" remembered Emma, "But, he would say it in this weird tone of voice."

Overwhelmed by the number of people and determined to get them all done in one evening, Corliss called Provincetown tattoo artist Christian Bennett. He and four other tattoo artists came down to help.

"We all ripped what we were doing, and headed up here," tells Bennett, owner of Mooncusser tattoo parlor. "It was overwhelming. It was really cool. It was a pretty touching, and one of the coolest things I have ever done."

"None of the artist you know, none of them were looking for any money," added Corliss, stating it was all free. 

The group somehow finished all of the tattoos in one night.

"It was the first happy moment we have had in a couple days," explained Emma, "It felt like Sam was right around the corner. He could have been in the other room. It was kind of the start of the turnaround in the healing process."

Even as our cameras were rolling, another friend of Sam's unexpectedly came in for the Needham tattoo. The Needham family watched on as Reshawn Brooks had the moon and fishing scene etched into his leg. Sam taught Reshawn how to fish and play football.

"Sam was in my culinary class," smiled Brooks. "I 100% am getting this."

Corliss says he will tattoo the logo on anyone who comes in asking for it. 

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