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Newtown tragedy hits close to home for former Dwyer standout Bobby Puyol

Dec 17, 2012 -- 3:36pm

By: Ken LaVicka

Last Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, CT was a nightmare of unimaginable proportions, leaving many trying to find answers to one of the darkest moments in United States history. For Bobby Puyol, it’s a tragedy that has had a profound effect on him in multiple ways.

Puyol, the former Dwyer standout who’s now a freshman kicker on the UConn football team, was on campus in Storrs when 20-year old Adam Lanza stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary and conducted the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a massacre that left 26 dead, 20 of them young children.

“I was in our student union and I looked at the TV and saw that two people were killed at a school in Newtown,” says Puyol, retracing his steps late last week. “I had to get to my math tutor so I left and didn’t really think much of it.”

“When I got to the classroom, my tutor told me that over twenty people were dead, kids were gone. I had to get out of there. I was heated.”

Newtown is 75 miles east of Storrs, but Puyol says the devastating effects are being felt throughout Connecticut, including at the state’s largest academic institution.

“One of my teammates told me he was in line returning books, and girl a few people in front of him gets a phone call then just hits the floor and starts crying. One of her relatives was killed at the school. Everyone was just in there loving on her, a bunch of people just trying to comfort her.”

Puyol just returned to South Florida for the holidays after a rookie year with the Huskies that saw him on pace to red-shirt before being pressed into action in the season finale, a loss to Cincinnati. As he traveled back to Palm Beach County with UConn teammate and Palm Beach Central grad Jhavon Williams, Puyol was still trying to wrap his mind around the evil that took place in Newtown.

“We were together on our flight down and just looking at the stories, seeing the ages of the kids who were killed. Six years old, seven years old. It’s just awful.”

The mindless Newtown attack registers with Puyol not only because of his close proximity to the now infamous town, but also because his family is in charge of the well-being of pre-schoolers on a daily basis.

The Puyol’s have owned Gardens Learning Center in Palm Beach Gardens for over two decades. Like most schools in the country, GLC is now re-evaluating its security procedures because of the Newtown disaster.

“This can definitely happen anywhere,” says Puyol.

It’s an uneasy time across the country. Even a simple elementary school can no longer be considered a safe haven. For Puyol, his new home state won’t be the same for a very long time. When asked to sum up his feelings on Newtown, Puyol says a lot in a just a few words.

“I hope this brings people closer together.”

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