Parents and Classmates Keep Nick Napolitono’s (’11) Memory Alive

9.18.2012 Alumni News, Article, General

Wake Forest Business Alum Died While Saving a Friend's Life
Reposted from WPRI-TV | By Will Gilbert

(WPRI) — It is the thing that every parent fears and hopes will never happen: a tragedy involving their child.

The Rhode Show's Will Gilbert met up with one family who hopes that in the wake of their loss, something positive will happen in their son’s memory.

"Nick was the son every parent would want. Quite honestly, he excelled in most everything he did. He was an all star baseball player in middle school he was all state soccer player in high school. In his senior year they won state championship. He was voted best defender," said Regis Napolitano, Nick’s mom.

Nick also was a top of his class in school and his mother was so proud.

"He was a national merit scholar. He went on to Wake Forest University, enrolled in the business school. He knew what he wanted to do. He was very focused," she added. "What so many of his friends say about him is that he knew how to balance life. He worked hard and he played hard."

But one day in August last year changed everything.

"As we came home and drove up our driveway we were met with police cars with red lights with police officers. With friends walking up with the most incredible looks on their faces. August 7, that was the night our world collapsed," she said.

It was when Nick Napolitono and some college friends took a walk to Brenton Point in Newport.

"One of them, one of Nick's friends, jumped from what we now know to be called, 'Twelve O'Clock High,' and after he jumped the winds picked up, the surf picked up. He found himself in great distress. My son looked to another friend who was standing there and said, 'I’ve got this.' And those are the last words he spoke."

The Rhode Show visited Brenton Point with Nick’s dad, Val, for the first time since the sudden loss.

Nick's mom asked him, "For you to come back here today to this place where the tragedy happened and then to see this today. I don't even know if you can tell me how you feel? What does all of this mean to you?"

Val says, "There are so many people that have done so many things for my son, and this is just an example I didn't know was here. It is absolutely. I am so humbled by it."

A small memorial has been put at Brenton Point to remember Nick.

Now, the family has made it their goal to warn others of similar dangers.

Val said, "What we're doing and doing from this day forward is trying to get signage up in unsafe places like Brenton State Park and Brenton Point so this nightmare doesn’t happen any place else. With the proper signage, obviously someone may say 'hey $500 fine or 30 days in jail, that is not to appealing to me.' ”

A small thing to ask for that may save another life and stop another tragedy.

Nicks father says, "It's very very tough. I know my son so well, and I don't fault him for who he was. He would have jumped in regardless if it was illegal to save somebody."

Nick's family has set up a website to remember Nick and to raise money to help people across the country.

His father never thought it would turn into this.

"I never imagined and I thought, I truly thought, and my son and I where as close as any father and son could be, and I thought I knew everything about him. I didn't know 80 percent of his life. Because of this I'm stunned by how many people he really impacted," he added.

Nick Napolitano's memory is kept alive every day by his family, friends and classmates.

His family is working to get signs posted in dangerous places in hopes of maybe saving someone else's life.

If you would like more information about how you can help you can head to Nick Napolitano Memorial Fund online at