‘The quietest bonfire ever’: Homecoming weekend sees five Good Samaritan calls, no arrests

No students attempted to touch the Homecoming bonfire this year, down from around 50 attempts in 2016, a result of increased safety precautions and a taller fence.

by Emily Fagell | 11/4/22 5:00am

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No students attempted to touch the Homecoming bonfire this year.

by Gracie Goodwin / The Dartmouth

No students were arrested during this year’s Homecoming weekend, according to Safety and Security director Keysi Montás. Safety and Security received five Good Samaritan calls from late Thursday night through early Sunday morning — mirroring 2021’s five and marking a slight increase from 2019’s three, according to Montás and past reporting by The Dartmouth.

According to Hanover fire chief Martin McMillan, no students attempted to touch the bonfire, marking the fourth consecutive Homecoming without any attempts. Seven students attempted to touch the bonfire in 2017 and an estimated 50 tried in 2016. McMillan called this year’s event the “best bonfire ever,” attributing the good behavior to recent safety precautions taken by the College, such as reducing the number of laps completed by students and installing a fence around the perimeter of the fire.

“We had two calls [during the bonfire]. One was for an automatic alarm and one was for a student who had a medical issue,” McMillan said. “Other than that, I think this was the quietest bonfire we’ve had in — ever, probably.”

In addition to Safety and Security, the Hanover police department and the Hanover fire department, Dartmouth EMS helped monitor the bonfire and Homecoming festivities, executive director Kelly Rutherford ’23 wrote in an emailed statement. Rutherford added that 17 EMTs staffed the standby at the bonfire build on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and nine EMS members took shifts throughout the weekend.

“In anticipation of increased call volume during Homecoming, Dartmouth EMS expanded its traditional campus coverage to provide two crews from [7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.] on Friday night and [9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.] on Saturday night, allowing the agency to respond to multiple calls at the same time,” Rutherford added. “We were on standby on the Green, along with the Hanover fire department, during the night celebration on Friday night.” 

According to Montás, one Good Samaritan call was made early Friday morning “way before the bonfire,” around 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 28. He said the other four Good Samaritan calls came in late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Of the five patients involved in the calls, three were transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and two were taken to Dick’s House, Montás said. He added that a sixth student was “turned over to a friend” after calling for a “medical issue.”

Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis said the police department also received calls for two missing children during the bonfire — one 10-year-old and one three-year-old — both of whom were found “within 10 or 15 minutes.” 

Dennis said the police department also responded to an incident on Saturday night in which students reported being shot by an airsoft pistol from a moving car. While Dennis added that the department does not “have a lot of information at all on vehicle information,” he said that officers “were able to solve” a similar incident that took place on Monday night. 

“We had a similar call [Monday] night, of an airsoft gun being shot at people on the Green, but we were able to find those people and stopped and identified the people in the vehicle,” Dennis said, noting that the suspects were juveniles and that issues related to airsoft guns have been occurring recently at Hanover High School.  

According to Dennis, emergency services also responded to an incident in which an individual discharged two fire extinguishers in the Fayerweather dormitories. While Dennis said the police department has not yet identified a suspect, he explained that consequences for the student will depend on pending cost estimates.

“The higher the damage, the higher the potential criminal charge could be,” Dennis explained. 

Adelaide Dixon ’26 said she was asleep in her room in Mid Fayerweather Hall at “around 3 a.m.” when she was woken up by a fire alarm, followed by a Safety and Security or police officer who entered her room and “scream[ed] at [her] to go downstairs.”

“I think [the fire extinguisher incident] was dealt with appropriately under the circumstances,” Dixon said. “It was obviously really annoying, but I think it was handled appropriately. I think I was also very tired, so I wasn’t really fully thinking about it at all.”

In addition to the fire extinguisher incident, Montás said Safety and Security was alerted of a “possible stink bomb” set off on Saturday night, which he confirmed occurred in Gamma Delta Chi fraternity. 

“Concerns about the safety of the brothers and guests of GDX prompted us to end Saturday night’s event early, but these concerns have since been resolved,” GDX president Nick Howard ’23 wrote in an emailed statement. “We have no further comments at this time.”

While McMillan said the fire department was “busy” during Homecoming, he said the number of calls did not “overwhelm the system,” citing only one instance during the weekend in which the Hanover department had to call the Lebanon fire department for mutual assistance — somebody pulled a fire alarm in a fraternity, which may have been a malfunction, he said. Overall, McMillan called the weekend “very successful.”

“I think the College and the design of this whole thing should be complimented,” he said.

Representatives from the College Health Service did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

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