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"The Accident that Did Not Need to Happen."

When considering the events of February 5 and 6, 2005 at Paul Smith's College, one must separate two aspects of the college's failings.  The most serious failing was the College's failure to properly react to obviously reckless activities by students which amounted to a foreseeable danger.  The second failing is the college's failure to take all reasonable steps to control the drinking culture that was so apparent on campus.  Although separate failings, the two are interrelated.  As in Paul Smith's case, a college that is indifferent to underage and excessive drinking on campus likely has a tendency is to also look the other way from the associated reckless activities that too often accompanies student drinking.

While colleges in general and Paul Smithís College in particular, can be faulted for less than effective reaction to underage and excessive use of alcohol on campus, the major failing which resulted in the loss of life was the failure to react appropriately to foreseeable dangers in connection with activities associated with the use of alcohol.  Most parents would agree this disregard for safety is inexcusable.

 The night of Kristine's death, the foreseeable danger was snowmobile riding, on ice, at night, without helmets, by drinking students.  Several snowmobiles were riding on Lower St. Regis Lake throughout the night around a bonfire.  The activities finally came to an end when a snowmobile struck a peninsula called Peter's Rock directly across from the campus, killing Kristine and the snowmobile's driver, Joshua Rau.

This combined failing by college personnel and officials was present in 2005, and likely again present in May 2007 when two Paul Smith's students drowned in the same lake in circumstances strikingly similar to the 2005 tragedies (see news coverage), except that since the lake was now thawed, canoes rather than snowmobiles were in use. In 2007, it apparently was the blind eye to what has been said to be traditional parties on Peterís Rock which required significant logistical efforts in transporting students and supplies across a frigid lake in boats, many of which without oars.   A Vermont newspaper reported this following statement taken from Paul Smith's College web site a few days after the drownings:

"According to reports posted on the Paul Smith's Web site, the young men were going out to an island in the lake to make a bonfire in celebration of their last day of classes. They took two canoes out on the frigid lake to reach the island, but the two boats capsized about 100 yards away from the shore." (Bennington Banner, May 8, 2007)

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"The Accident that Did Not Need to Happen."

When considering the events of February 5 and 6, 2005 at Paul Smith's College, one must separate two aspects of the college's failings.  The most serious failing was the College's failure to properly react to obviously reckless activities by students which amounted to a foreseeable danger.  The second failing is the college's failure to take all reasonable steps to control the drinking culture that was so apparent on campus.  Although separate failings, the two are interrelated.  As in Paul Smith's case, a college that is indifferent to underage and excessive drinking on campus likely has a tendency is to also look the other way from the associated reckless activities that too often accompanies student drinking.

While colleges in general and Paul Smithís College in particular, can be faulted for less than effective reaction to underage and excessive use of alcohol on campus, the major failing which resulted in the loss of life was the failure to react appropriately to foreseeable dangers in connection with activities associated with the use of alcohol.  Most parents would agree this disregard for safety is inexcusable.

 The night of Kristine's death, the foreseeable danger was snowmobile riding, on ice, at night, without helmets, by drinking students.  Several snowmobiles were riding on Lower St. Regis Lake throughout the night around a bonfire.  The activities finally came to an end when a snowmobile struck a peninsula called Peter's Rock directly across from the campus, killing Kristine and the snowmobile's driver, Joshua Rau.

This combined failing by college personnel and officials was present in 2005, and likely again present in May 2007 when two Paul Smith's students drowned in the same lake in circumstances strikingly similar to the 2005 tragedies (see news coverage), except that since the lake was now thawed, canoes rather than snowmobiles were in use. In 2007, it apparently was the blind eye to what has been said to be traditional parties on Peterís Rock which required significant logistical efforts in transporting students and supplies across a frigid lake in boats, many of which without oars.   A Vermont newspaper reported this following statement taken from Paul Smith's College web site a few days after the drownings:

"According to reports posted on the Paul Smith's Web site, the young men were going out to an island in the lake to make a bonfire in celebration of their last day of classes. They took two canoes out on the frigid lake to reach the island, but the two boats capsized about 100 yards away from the shore." (Bennington Banner, May 8, 2007)

Click for more details 

Back to Why we were compelled to act

 

Back to How we became involved

 
Kristine's Pictures:
  Spiral Collage
  School Pictures
 
Top of page  

Information on Federal Law addressing campus drinking

ACT NOW-Before Events Leave You With No Choice

Leave your comments on the CompelledToAct Blog