When roommates Christian Procida and Anthony Porcelli attempt eye contact and a friendly smile with her in the library, all they receive is a confused look and hurried dismissal in return.
They saved her life last week, and this week, she has no idea who they are.
At around 9:30 p.m on Nov. 1, Procida, Porcelli and three other members of the Castleton State College football team made a trip into Rutland for an after-practice snack.
“We just wanted some fast food when we went into town that night,” remembers Procida. “We got a lot more than that.”
Driving on Route 4, the car full of hungry freshmen was suddenly passed by a speeding vehicle, clearly out of control. Procida, following his instincts, told the driver of their car to slow down to maintain a safe distance from the swerving green sedan.
His instincts were accurate, and several seconds later the car in front of them was airborne.
“Suddenly, the car was flipping through the air,” Porcelli said. “Then it landed off the road on the driver’s side door. Everything in me was telling me to help.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
They leaped from their car and rushed to the aid of the driver. But when they peered into the windows, they could see nothing but smoke and hear nothing but screaming.
“There was such thick smoke, it’s all we could see and smell. Then this hand came out of nowhere and started banging on the window from inside,” Procida said, adding that it was something right from a horror movie.
Porcelli and Procida searched the back of their car for something to break open the windows and free the driver. They succeeded using a combination of a metal jack and folding chair.
Then Porcelli crawled into the car.
“I saw her lying on the passenger side, a cut on her neck and a bottle of vodka in the backseat,” Porcelli said. “She was screaming for help.”
The driver, Castleton State College student Kalinen Barrows, was charged with DUI, according to State Police. She has declined to comment about the crash.
Porcelli managed to pull her out of the car and carry her a safe distance from the wreck. By then, local police and EMT personnel had arrived on the scene. Allegedly, Barrows could not remember where she was coming from or where she was headed when she got behind the wheel. And no ‘thank you’ was ever given to the football players.
They headed back to campus, no longer in the mood for a burger and fries.
Porcelli and Procida pass Barrows on campus almost every day, and yet she has no memory of who they are. And even though recognition is not what they were after when they saved her life, their admirable actions did not go unnoticed.
At a weekly SGA meeting, professor Stephanie Wilson brought her class for an “academically related meeting.” Porcelli and Procida, both students of Wilson’s, had no idea that someone on campus had taken an interest in the recent event. Unfortunately, Porcelli was not able to attend class that night, so Procida had to represent them both.
“I was listening to the meeting about the new civility tokens, wondering who would get the first one,” said Procida modestly. “Then they called my name, I couldn’t believe it.”
SGA President Timothy Mackintosh and Castleton State College President Dave Wolk presented Procida with a framed civility token; a new idea brought to the campus as a way to reward and thank people for small acts of kindness.
Both Mackintosh and Wolk announced they were “proud to have such strong students” on campus, to have people “do the right thing,” even if the right thing isn’t always easy.
Both Porcelli and Procida have their tokens on display in their dorm room, sitting proudly on their desks next to stacks of homework and Little Debbie coffee cakes.
“We’ll both keep these forever,” said Porcelli.
“I think the tokens are proof that our parents raised us right,” adds Procida. “and that people in general will usually do the right thing when it comes down to it.”