Breaking Through the Fourth Wall

Gabrielle Freedman talks with a Lawrence Township police officer after crashing her car through a wall of Rider’s Fine Arts building.

By Alexis Schulz

A student was charged with DUI and assault by auto after her car pierced the side of the Fine Arts building on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus on Oct. 13, blasting a hole in the bricks surrounding the Spitz Theater. No one was seriously injured.
Gabrielle Freedman, a junior accounting major from Danville, Pa., was driving west toward the back of campus when she lost control of her vehicle at 12:15 p.m. She veered off the road, crossed over a four-foot wall and then smashed into Fine Arts, according to Lawrence Township Police Sgt. Chris Longo and Lt. Joseph Amodio.
Freedman was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center with minor facial injuries and, according to Longo, was quickly released. Freedman’s passenger, David Campbell, a sophomore political science and accounting major from Fair Lawn, N.J., was treated at the scene for a minor hand injury. Freedman and Campbell both were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in addition to Freedman’s other charges.
Kristine Brown, director of media relations, said in a statement that Fine Arts did not suffer any major structural damage.
“Classes will continue to be held in Fine Arts with the exception of the Spitz Theater, which will be offline for several weeks as repairs are made,” Brown said. “No other precautions are necessary.”
The damaged outside wall was quickly removed and replaced with plywood  by Facilities Management. The structural engineering firm of Harrison-Hamnett P.C., Spiezle Architects and Lawrence Township’s building inspector examined the building after impact. All concluded there was no reason not to hold classes in the building.
Jessica Spinosa, sophomore arts administration major, was one of the first at the scene when the accident occurred. She said she heard a loud bang while walking between classes and ran over to see what happened.
“It sounded like gun shots, and all of a sudden people started yelling, ‘Call the police,’” she said. “I ran over and saw a car smoking in the middle of the building.”
Spinosa said by the time she arrived at the scene, Freedman was out of her vehicle and being consoled by professors.
“She was a little shaken up, as we all were, but she seemed fine,” Spinosa said.
Trent Blanton, professor of theater, was holding a class in the Spitz when the car broke through.
“I was teaching an Introduction to Acting class when suddenly there was a loud crash and debris came flying into the room,” said Blanton. “Students were standing in the debris and a mobile chalkboard that was stationary just a couple minutes before, landed on the floor. I shudder to think about what would have happened if there had been anyone standing there.”
Many students first obtained word of the accident on the app YikYak. Nicholas McManus, sophomore computer information systems major, said he thought the app caused more harm to the situation than good.
“I feel like everyone was making jokes about the crash,” he said. “They were funny and made me laugh, but we can only laugh because she was not injured.”
Spinosa said she was glad Freedman was not seriously injured.
“If you were there in that moment, it was very scary,” she said. “But we can all be thankful that she is going to be fine.”

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