Nearly two weeks after three Skidmore college students were struck by an alleged drunk driver, college officials are beginning conversations on campus and throughout the community on how to move on from the tragedy that killed a freshman student.
On Halloween night, three first-year students, Toby Freeman, Oban Galbraith, and Michael Hedges, were walking along Daniels Road when they were struck by a vehicle driven by 64-year-old Thomas Gorman of Saratoga Springs.
Freeman and Galbraith are recovering from their injuries. Hedges, a native of Lenox, Massachusetts, was killed.
The Skidmore campus and members of the community came together for a candlelight vigil for the students soon after.
Skidmore College president Phillip Glotzbach said the turnout at the vigil was “quite extraordinary.”
“These young men who were directly involved were first-year students, so they’d literally been on campus just a couple of months. And most of the students who came did not know them personally but still felt a sense of connection because they were members of the community. And of course it wasn’t just students; it was members of the faculty, it was staff, administrators, people from Saratoga Springs. We had some parents there that had driven in from a couple of states away.”
After the accident, the campus offered therapy sessions to students and brought in therapy dogs.
While the tragedy remains on the minds of many, President Glotzbach said he is seeing some things return to normal.
“We’re hopeful that we can help our students move on to deal with the issues that remain for them. They’ll be coming up soon of the semester with exams. They have a lot of work to do. So I think that there are a lot of things that will be on their minds, in addition to these events.”
But the conversation about what to do to prevent another such tragedy is just beginning.
Glotzbach said now there’s a moment for the campus community to seize upon. Already, Glotzbach said he has reached out to the town of Greenfield and the City of Saratoga Springs about identifying issues that may have contributed to the crash.
For one thing, the stretch of road where the students were hit does not have a sidewalk.
“It’s a narrow road; it’s a challenging road even in the daylight. And it’s the responsibility of drivers to be cautious. If you’re behind the wheel, you have to be aware if there are students, bicyclists, or whoever is up there that you need to slow down and pay attention. And quite clearly that did not happen on this occasion.”
The accident was discussed at Thursday night’s Greenfield town board meeting. Town supervisor Paul Lunde said the issue was put on the agenda at the request of town residents.
“And there was a lot of good comments made about making the area maybe a little safer. But then also, what I think the general consensus was of the meeting, is that we have to deal with the underlying cause of what happened and no so much doing a knee-jerk reaction.”
Lunde said town residents voiced concerns about underage drinking and parties in apartments along country roads.
Lunde he looks forward to meeting with school officials “to come up with some solutions.”
Glotzbach said the two other students involved in the crash are recovering. He said he has been told one has been released from the hospital and will return to campus.