What happens in the aftermath of a tragic drunk driving accident? Change. In this case, change comes in the form of a unique educational exhibition that displays the dangers of drunk driving. The exhibit has made its way across the northeast and will now visit the Hobart and William Smith campus, the place where two of the accident’s victims attended classes before the tragedy.
While visiting their friend Katie Almeter at Colgate University, William Smith students Emily Collins ’04 and Rachel Nargiso ’04 along with Almeter flagged down a Jeep on their way home from at night out in Hamilton. Unfortunately, the driver and all of the passengers in his Jeep had been drinking at a party beforehand. In less than a minute, the driver lost control on a slippery road and the car crashed into a tree. Collins, Nargiso, Almeter and Kevin King — a friend of the driver who was a Colgate student — all died in the accident.
“After the accident, two professors got in touch with Katie’s father,” explained Cathleen Zupan ’09, organizer of the exhibition’s visit to HWS. “One of the professors runs a non-profit that was interested in doing an exhibition on the history of the girls, remembering their lives and showing the public that such a tragedy could happen to anyone.”
The 100-foot long exhibition includes sections focused on each of the three girls as well as a timeline of the fateful night of their accident. “There are mementos of each of the girls: stuffed animals, track jerseys, artwork – things that could belong to anyone,” Zupan said. “The double timeline-of both the girls and the guys in the Jeep-creates a visual representation of how a typical night can turn into tragedy.”
The combination of educational tool, real-life expose and memorial has gained recognition. What began as a New York State exhibition has since traveled throughout the northeast.
“After hearing about the exhibition and knowing how close the accident was to us all here at HWS, I wanted to bring it here so that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Zupan explained. After getting the details and scheduling in order, Zupan succeeded at her goal.
The exhibition will appear in Hirshson Ballroom from Monday, Jan. 26 – Friday, Feb. 27. Hours are from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from noon – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Funding for the exhibit is provided through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council, New York State Stop DWI Foundation, The Sheldon & Ruth Goldstein Foundation and the New York State Press Association Foundation.
In addition, the parents of Collins and Nargiso established a memorial scholarship fund in memory of their daughters in 2002. This endowed scholarship fund provides scholarship assistance to a William Smith student who is academically qualified and financially deserving of this support. Rita Ashton P’04, P’07 and Mr. and Mrs. Collins P’04 chose to honor their daughters in this way because they wanted to establish a meaningful and lasting legacy for Emily and Rachel at the Colleges.
In 2006, Ruth and her husband, Sheldon, Goldstein GP’04, GP’07 also renovated the Goldstein Family Carriage House in honor of their granddaughters, Rachel ’04 and Sarah ’07 Nargiso.
To find out more about the exhibition, click here.
Community and school groups who wish to visit the exhibit should make a reservation by calling the Office of Residential Education at (315) 781-3880.