CLARK, NJ – The glow of holiday lights stood in stark contrast to the solemn crowd gathered to remember and mourn Michael Sot on Tuesday evening. The crowd came together to pray, cry, reminisce, reassure and support each other after the loss of one of their own just hours before.
Jackie Caplette, Christine Greenbush, Joe Sortino and Caleb Bain worked together with the township to organize the vigil for Sot. “We wanted to have a place for everyone to gather, to be there for one another,” said Caplette.
Gather is what they did. Community members crowded together in front of Clark’s Municipal Building to remember Sot. They talked about his determination, kindness, loyalty, friendship, love and positive outlook.
Sot’s desire to do things right and be responsible were captured in the words of many during the vigil and made the weight of his death harder to bear. According to friends and family, Sot was serving as the designated driver in his car Sunday morning, working to bring others home safely when he was struck down by another driver charged with driving while impaired.
“Michael was a great, great young man as we all know and the hardest part of this is Michael was doing the right thing, he was making sure others were safe and this tragedy happened and it changed his family’s life forever and a lot of our lives forever,” Mayor Bonaccorso said.
Superintendent Ed Grande also spoke about Sot’s character. “The heart of Clark schools really is bleeding like our entire community this evening…we all know what an outstanding individual Mike was, just what he did over the weekend was a testament to that,” said Grande.
Sot’s friends worked to find comfort in each other’s words and arms as they hugged, cried, shared memories and listened to others memorialize him. “What I loved most about you is your smarts, your kindness, your concern for anyone and everyone and the pride that you took in responsibility. You’re the one person that stuck it out with me when times got tough,” said Vincent Crisafi as he read a letter he wrote to Sot after hearing of his death.
Vin Campbell shared his memories of Sot as a happy guy and urged the crowd to try to celebrate his life. “It’s tragic, nothing can be undone and in this time we just need to think and support the family and just not let his legacy die,” said Campbell. “He always told me something and I say it a lot, ‘tradition never dies’ and neither will he.”
Father Sheridan of St. Agnes Church was on hand for the gathering and shared a reading with the crowd and thoughts about how hard it is in tragic times to know what to say. He suggested that silence often speaks loudly and is the thing that allows one to be there in support during times of loss.
Mayor Bonaccorso closed the event by reminding attendees that Clark takes care of its neighbors. “We will be there as a community, as a family for his family,” said Bonaccorso.
Grande offered words of comfort to those mourning. "I know it’s difficult in a time like this, but we have to believe Mike is looking down on us tonight, on this cold night, and he is feeling all the warmth and love from all of us,” said Grande.
TAPinto Clark is the only free daily newspaper in town. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of the municipality. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto Clark through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter @TAPintoClark.