Community struggles with tragedy
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | September 28,2012
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
A candlelight vigil in memory of Carly Ferro was held Thursday evening on the front lawn of Rutland High School where she was a senior.
The vigil was over but the hundreds who gathered outside Rutland High School on Thursday evening huddled together, reluctant to leave as their candles lit the gloom.
One student stepped forward and read a poem, followed by another who read something she’d written about the pain she and all her classmates were grappling with — the death of 17-year-old Carly Ferro.
“We lost someone special last night,” said RHS student Kaylee Gilbert. “Such a young and beautiful person was taken from us and we can never get her back.”
The same sentiments were expressed Thursday throughout the Rutland community, where everyone from police and prosecutors to people on the street tried to make sense of a fatal car crash that was repeatedly described as a “senseless tragedy.”
That description rang more and more true as details of the crash became available Thursday.
Ferro died about two and a half hours after the crash that injured her just outside her workplace, Rutland Discount Food and Liquidation Center on Cleveland Avenue. She was just walking out of the store toward her father’s car at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, police said, when a 2004 Toyota Camry careened into the parking area at up to 80 mph and caused a crash involving four vehicles and injuring four people in addition to Carly Ferro.
Ron Ferro, who was waiting in his car to pick up his daughter, remained hospitalized Thursday in good condition.
Rutland City Police said Alex W. Spanos, 23, the driver of the Camry, had been inhaling aerosol cans of Dust-Off to get high while he drove around the city for part of the day.
More than 100 residents watched rescuers and police investigators at the crash scene Wednesday night. Many more were talking about the crash on the streets and through social media sites on Thursday.
“This is a huge tragedy for the city, the neighborhoods and the people who worked at the store, and it could have been avoided,” Rutland United Neighborhoods coordinator Lynne Walsh said early Thursday.
By midafternoon, ripples from the crash had spread to the point that Walsh and city police decided to schedule a special meeting early next week to help the community process the trauma.
Starting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Northwest Elementary School, residents are invited to talk about their concerns over the incident. Rutland Mental Health representatives will be on hand to talk with anyone.
“She was a popular student on the golf team and fairly well known in the community,” said Rutland Police Lt. Kevin Geno. “We thought a healing of some sort would be appropriate.”
Geno said he personally understands the trauma the community is going through. The seasoned veteran said the crash, which took place on a residential street, ranks as the worst he’d ever seen.
“I can’t recall a scene as horrific as this in my career here,” he said.
The crash also prompted Rutland Police Chief James Baker to call short a trip to a police chief’s convention in San Diego. Baker, who was in North Carolina Thursday afternoon, said he would be back in the city today.
“Collectively the police department recognizes that this is one of the most tragic events to happen in the community in a long time,” Baker said explaining his reasons for returning to Vermont. “From our perspective, we have a role in providing resources that will help the community deal with this trauma.”
For students at Rutland High School, where Ferro was an accomplished member of the varsity golf team and a member of several student groups, both the trauma and the healing were in evidence at the vigil attended by students, faculty and family members.
“I think it’s safe to say we will all miss Carly and what she brought to our lives,” said Associate Principal Pam Reed. “Please remember to be kind to each other and take care of each other and yourselves.”