OPINION: UNH Student Incident a Heartbreaking Reminder That Life is Fragile
Unfortunately, it's a harsh, heartbreaking reminder of what we all know deep down, but possibly tend to forget -- life is fragile and it's not guaranteed.
Vincenzo "Vinny" Lirosi should be at class right now during the time of this writing. Instead, he is being mourned. He should have spent his Sunday relaxing and watching football. Instead, his body was being discovered.
On Saturday evening around 5p, UNH Police requested public service assistance on Instagram in finding 22-year-old Vinny after he was reported missing earlier that morning around 3a. Not much was known at the time except that he had been drinking with friends that night and was believed to have gone through a wooded area used by students on campus as a shortcut, all about 90 minutes before he was reported missing.
About 24 hours later -- yesterday evening -- an update was given that unfortunately, Vinny's deceased body had been discovered in a marshy area off of Coe Drive in Durham earlier than afternoon. WMUR reported that Vinny had left his friends because he was kicked out of the bar they were at after being involved in a fight. That's reportedly when Vinny went for the wooded shortcut.
Why was he alone?
This article isn't tossing blame anywhere and it's not calling his friends out for not leaving with him. But what this article is pointing out, is, as mentioned in the headline, life is fragile. Throughout our childhood, and even as college student adults, we've been taught the importance of the Buddy system. Of sticking together. Especially on nights where alcohol is involved.
I went to college 7 miles south of Boston, which means my friends and I would routinely hop on the free shuttle to and from the city, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Generally when we were going in on weekend nights, it was specifically to go to the bars. And even if our larger group split up into smaller groups, one thing remained constant:
No one was ever alone.
I know that times have changed since I graduated college 15 years ago, but that's even more reason to make sure no one is alone. How many times do we turn on the news or flip through social media and hear about or see a headline about someone being attacked. Or even the recent concerns with assaults against women on the UNH campus. Safety in numbers isn't just a cute catchphrase.
A press release from Durham Police Chief Rene Kelley says there is no foul play suspected in Vinny's death, and an autopsy will reveal more, but what if Vinny wasn't alone late Friday night/early Saturday morning and one of his friends left the bar with him? Maybe this article wouldn't even need to be written.
At the end of the day, and hopefully when autopsy results and investigations are complete, this will remain just one horrible, heartbreaking accident. But also a reminder that none of us -- not me, not you, not your friends -- are untouchable. We're all mortal. Stick together and look out for your people.
Thoughts, prayers, and healing vibes go out to Vinny's family and friends during such a difficult, tragic time.