BY ANDREW BLOM // DEC. 5, 2011 //
A white wooden cross stands surrounded by colorful decorations about a mile from Curry College. Located next to the entrance of the Blue Hills Reservation on Route 138, it serves as both a memorial and a painful reminder of tragic mistakes.
Few current students may know that the memorial marks the spot where former Curry student Kimberly Craft was killed in a drunk-driving accident in 2004. Her mother, Anne Miranda, of East Falmouth, Mass., visits and maintains the site at least once a month, most recently on Nov. 14, which marked the seven-year anniversary of her daughter’s death.
“It’s like she’s away at school still,” says Miranda, struggling to find the words through persistent tears. “Maybe that’s why I still go up there.”
Craft, a basketball standout at Falmouth High School, where she played alongside her older sister and team captain, Crystal, transferred to Curry in the spring of 2004 mainly to be closer to home, Miranda says. Craft previously attended the University of New Haven in Connecticut. As a sophomore at Curry, Craft joined the women’s basketball team and was preparing for the start of the season. It was at a preseason scrimmage a few weeks before her death that she and her mother last saw each other.
According to Miranda, Craft was with friends at Cappy’s Tavern in Hyde Park on Nov. 14, 2004, following a Curry football game. Craft, who had recently turned 21, didn’t order a drink at the bar, but her friend Emmanuel Parent, 19, did. The two shared “one drink” at Cappy’s, according to Miranda.
After returning to campus later that night to drop off friends, and having a few more drinks, according to media reports, the two again left Curry. Parent, a member of the football team, drove Craft’s car as she sat in the passenger’s seat. Driving on Blue Hills Avenue, Parent veered across the road and slammed head-on into another vehicle. Craft was not wearing her seatbelt and died from her injuries; Parent and the two people in the other car survived.
In September 2005, Parent pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide while drunk and causing serious bodily injury. He was sentenced to 2 ½ years in the Norfolk County House of Corrections for Craft’s death, and two concurrent six-month sentences for the injuries suffered by those in the other car. He also had his driver’s license suspended for 10 years.
Miranda says she cannot understand why students make the choices they do, especially drinking to great excess. “I just don’t think they really get it,” she says. “We lose our children at such a young age and it’s [because of] bad choices.
“Every day is a struggle,” she later adds. “You try to cover it, but I wouldn’t wish it on any family, ever.”
Such concerns are particularly relevant today. This semester alone, approximately 20 Curry students have been taken off campus by ambulance due to over-intoxication and/or drug use.
Sue Pennini, dean of institutiuonal planning, and the associate dean of academics in 2004, recalls Craft’s death as a “horrific” time for everyone at Curry. “When something like this happens, it’ very personal to us,” she says.
Prior to Craft’s death, Curry frequently held campus “Pub Nights,” where alcohol was served in the Alumni Recreation Center to those over 21. The events were organized and supervised by the student-run Alcohol Safety and Awareness Organization. According to the 2004 edition of Amethyst, Curry’s annual yearbook, there were five “Pub Nights” the year prior to Craft’s death. The following year, “Pub Nights” and the Alcohol Safety and Awareness Organization no longer existed. It is unclear what role the accident had in those decisions, although Pennini noted that “many different factors” influenced campus policies following the crash.
Although Craft was relatively new to Curry, the women’s basketball team dedicated its 2004-2005 season to her memory. The team also played the season with her No. 22 jersey on the bench.
That season was the first for Coach Francis Elms, who remembers Craft as being “well respected” and would always be on the court practicing before and after the rest of the team. Seven years later, Elms says he still talks about her to his current players. “Not one instant she took her opportunity for granted,” Elms says. But in “one instant it can all be gone.”
In her memory, Elms created the Kimberly Craft Award, which is given each season to a women’s basketball player who is particularly passionate about the game.
“It’s amazing to me because she only knew her friends at Curry a few months,” says Miranda. “I’m honored to have been her mom.”
Curry currently has numerous outreach programs aimed at educating students about the dangers of alcohol, including the student-run R.A.G.E. peer educators club. Often, however, it’s a person’s friends who are in the best position to stop drinking and driving from happening.
“Even if it’s one person’s life that you affect before they make that decision,” says Miranda, “it’s a start.”