Two Stonington students charged with damaging field named for 9/11 victim

Piver Field, home to the Stonington High School boy's soccer team, was torn up Saturday night or early Sunday morning by someone driving a vehicle.
(Joe Wojtas/The Day)
Piver Field, home to the Stonington High School boy's soccer team, was torn up Saturday night or early Sunday morning by someone driving a vehicle. (Joe Wojtas/The Day)

Stonington — Police charged two Stonington High School students Monday night with using an SUV to tear up the Stonington High School soccer field named in memory of 9/11 victim Josh Piver on Oct. 29, causing $3,000 in damage.

Police did not release the names of the two 17-year-old boys or any details about them because they are juveniles. The driver was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree criminal trespass, while his passenger was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree criminal trespass. They were given summonses to appear in juvenile court. The proceedings and any eventual punishment will be decided behind closed doors and not released to the public.

Police Capt. Todd Olson said police were able to identify the type of vehicle that had caused the damage. Upon checking similar vehicles, Olson said officers found evidence of the field damage underneath one of them. That led police to identify the driver and his passenger.  

Olson said Public Works Director Barbara McKrell told police the field will be repaired in two phases: one that is taking place now and the second in the spring. She estimated the cost of labor and materials at $2,995.

High School Principal Mark Friese declined to comment on how the students will be punished because of student confidentiality. He said the school is working with the town to repair the field so it will be ready for use next year.

"It was an unfortunate event, some bad choices were made. We'll get it fixed and move forward," he said.      

The 23-year-old Piver, a 1996 graduate of the school who played goalkeeper on the soccer team, was working for Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City when he was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His family has since created a scholarship in his memory, and this fall the Stonington High School soccer team hosted the Piver Cup soccer tournament for the first time. A plaque mounted on a nearby boulder notes the field is named in his memory.

Just four years ago, the town borrowed $2.2 million to not only install artificial turf on the football field but also to rebuild all the grass fields, including Piver Field. Since then the town and school system have implemented a maintenance plan and have taken pains to avoid playing on the field when it rains so it is not damaged.

On Oct. 29, officials found water-filled ruts caused by tire tracks in large circles and figure-8 formations on the field. Large chunks of sod and mud had been thrown onto the undamaged grass. The damage had rendered the field unusable. The sod has since been replaced but ruts remain.

The undefeated boys’ soccer team is slated to next play on Wednesday, hosting a second-round game in the state Class M tournament, but that game will be played on the artificial turf field.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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