Lightweight paper lanterns filled the grey-blue sky as they drifted away with heavy sighs of sadness. As pinks, purples, oranges, blues and greens floated toward the clouds, friends held each other – and cried.
Fishtail Tavern held a vigil Sunday evening to remember Andrew Laramie, 26, of Castleton, Caleb Kinney, 24, of Fair Haven, and Samantha Forrest, 23, of Castleton – who died in a car accident early Saturday morning on Drake Road. And although the room was often filled with tears and hugs, it was also filled with smiles, laughter and “remember whens.”
Graduate Assistant at Castleton University Jamie Lynn smiled as she recalled selling Forrest her first snowboard.
Alumni Ally Dee was remembering the last time they hung out.
“We went to Zen Gardens and went for a hike. Last time we chilled, she took care of me and made me coffee,” Dee said smiling.
Forrest was a senior at Castleton studying exercise science who worked for two years at Fishtail Tavern. Kinney was a 2013 Castleton graduate and Laramie was a local friend of both.
Twiddle member and Castleton alumnus Ryan Dempsey was one of Forrest’s best friends and talked about a recent missed encounter with Forrest.
Dempsey said “what hurts most” was that Forrest was not able to make his birthday party Thursday night and then he got a message from her the night of the accident that he would soon realize couldn’t be answered.
The text from Forrest at 1:28 a.m. read “I couldn’t ask for a bester friend.”
“She was probably in the back seat texting me and then two minutes later…” Dempsey said as his voice trailed off and he wiped his eyes.
“I wish I had the chance to say I couldn’t have a bester friend either,” Dempsey said as he wept. “She was one of my closest friends. She was a one of a kind, giving, genuine, unique individual. She would drop whatever she was doing for anyone. She loved everyone. Her personality lit everyone up. There’s no one else like her,” he said.
The two men who died with her were just as loved.
“I heard Caleb was a really nice guy! And Andrew, whatever he did he was great at it. He was a great dude, an inspirational guy,” Dempsey said.
“He was a good guy,” Dee said about Kinney.
Castleton alumnus Trey Kiendl lives in Utah and couldn’t make it to the vigil, but shared his thoughts on Facebook.
“Caleb was 24, and one of the most athletic and accurate mountaineers I've ever had the pleasure of traveling with. Caleb was my mountaineering partner throughout college, so you could say we spent a lot of quality time together … I'll never forget Caleb's positive energy and enthusiasm to live a truly epic lifestyle. It's important for us to remember who Caleb really was, and what his philosophy was on life. He lived with a tremendous quality of life for the time that he was here, a lifestyle that many 80 year olds can only dream they lived. I love you brother, and you'll be with me every step through the mountains, rivers and forests of my life. I will never forget you. Ski in peace.”
Lori Phillips, director of Conferences and Events at Castleton University, was Forrest’s employer and described her as “a daughter.”
“She’s very special to me. She’s extremely loving, carefree, a free spirit. She has a heart of gold and I’m going to miss her dearly,” Phillips said.
Her voice began to quake over the phone as she took a long deep breath and paused for a couple moments.
“I’m still in shock. I’m hoping it’s not true. I want her family to know she’s in my prayers,” she said as she began to cry.
Senior Casey McGraw also worked with Forrest and Phillips and recalled their close relationship.
“Lori was literally like her mother,” McGraw said.
Owner of Fishtail Tavern Dave Rogers described the three as, “ a relaxed group.” They often went to Fishtail to play pool and hangout.
“Life just isn’t fair. I just talked to them! It’s surreal. You see somebody and you think you’ll see them again. It’s just so hard,” he said.
Fishtail co-worker and friend Jenna Bostwick hurried through people at the tavern as she wiped tears away from under her glasses saying, “It’s not real life. It’s not. It’s not real life at all.”
Alumna Megan Breen put her face in her hands and cried, “not these fucking people,” as her body crumbled.
Fishtail bartender Mike Mamunes was at a loss of words.
“They were the loudest, most outgoing people and nobody knows what to say,” Mamunes said looking shaken.
As the vigil was winding down, some reflected at the gathering on the outpouring of love.
“This is nice. It’s cool being around people who loved them all so much,” Dee said.
“If I went right now I wouldn’t be missed,” Rogers said half joking. “But they will be