The tarnished, worn-out silver bracelet around her wrist is more than a jewelry accessory; it is a reminder, a symbol for a friend.
“I wear this bracelet for him. It’s a cross with an ‘O’ on it … it’s already starting to wear because I never take it off,” said senior Coral Torelli.
On Thursday, June 11, 23-year-old Owen Iannotti died in a car accident on North Road in Castleton.
Iannotti’s accident is a permanent scar for countless people who knew him. But when Castleton friends here the name, “Owen” they smile, not only because he is deeply missed, but because of what he is remembered for.
“Being a generous person and his goofy laugh and smile,” 2015 graduate Lindsay Holmes said when asked what she remembers most about him. “He could always light up a room with that smile.”
She also described him as, “generous, protective and loyal.”
Senior Tucker Stone called him “a genuine person.”
“He was, and will be remembered as a genuinely kind and fun loving guy. He was out to live life to fullest possible manner and he was open to taking others along with him,” said Stone. “I still remember how he went out of his way to be personable and introduce himself with a friendly dap handshake on one of those first few days in a new house and new school. It’s an unfortunately rare trait in a society where acceptance is an inherited or bought item. Genuine kindness is my fondest memory of him.”
Torelli also talked about his kindness to all and loyalty to friends.
“He always made sure there was nothing to worry about … he just wanted everybody to be happy,” she said.
Many of his roommates and football teammates respectfully declined an interview because the subject is still an open wound.
“I'm not sure if I want to do it. It's still a touchy subject,” said one of his best friends, Tanner Darwell, over a message.
Darwell got a tattoo of a lion on his chest, close to his heart, because Iannotti loved lions. The tattoo reads: “I define myself.” Darwell also posted the tattoo on Facebook where he commented, “The past two months haven’t been easy. I’ll never understand death, or why it was O that had to go, but life has definitely been put into perspective. It’s all about how you live that makes all the difference. Rest easy O.”
Holmes is also planning on getting a lion tattoo in memory of Iannotti, but has already named a star after him.
“Owen was obsessed with lions so I’m in the process of getting a lion tattoo, but I also got a star named after him and most nights when the stars are out I sit outside and just talk to him like he’s right there with me,” she said.
Other students keep Iannotti close to them through other ways.
At 177 Pine Cliff Road, a house of five guys keeps Owens funeral pamphlet on their fridge so they can see him every day.
Even students who didn’t know Owen well still knew of him. Junior Melissa Dimock lived in Castleton this past summer and clearly remembers the way Castleton felt the day Iannotti passed away.
“I didn’t know Owen well. I hung out with him briefly my freshman year … being here this summer and watching everyone come together, sharing their stories, and offer support is amazing. I know we are all still in shock that such a beautiful person could be taken so soon. I barely knew him, but I think about him every single day. Owen will truly never be forgotten,” said Dimock.
Friends also constructed a bit of a shrine to him at the accident site, complete with a wooden cross with countless messages on it.
“Whenever I drive past the site of the accident, I silently thank him for everything he did for me and others and just for being a good person. I let him know we all miss him,” said Stone.