NORTH KINGSTOWN — Cooper Hammond was in Massachusetts with his family last May when he heard the news that his friend, Jordan Nonnemacher, had been in a car accident.
“My friend texted me and said, ‘Did you hear about Jordan? He’s in the hospital,’ and I just thought, ‘Oh, it can’t be that bad.’ I thought he was going to make it. That’s how I found out.”
Nonnemacher, 19, had crashed his car into a tree on Hamilton Allenton Road on May 27, 2012 around 9 p.m. His passenger, Kai Collucci, also 19, survived the accident, but Nonnemacher died from his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital the next day.
Hammond, 18, learned of his friend’s death from a local newscast.
“I didn’t realize how serious it was,” he said at his house last week.
The North Kingstown High School senior has started a fundraising campaign as part of his high school senior project to build a memorial skate spot in honor of Nonnemacher through Rally.org. In about one month, he has already raised more than $1,000, a third of his $3,000 goal.
The site – Rally.org/spotforjordy – features a video and interview with Nonnemacher’s father, Mario, which Hammond filmed, edited and produced.
While both Hammond and Nonnemacher attended North Kingstown High School, Nonnemacher was two years older than Hammond. They met about three years ago at the skatepark in Jamestown, a favorite destination for the two.
Hammond, who filmed many of the skate sessions, said Nonnemacher was an excellent skateboarder who found great happiness in the sport.
“He was really good,” Hammond recalled. “He had a natural talent for it. He had been doing it since he was really young.”
The local skateboarding community, especially in small towns like North Kingstown, is a tight-knit one and Nonnemacher’s death affected many people in and around town.
“It was rough, definitely,” said Hammond, who sports a “RIP Jordy” bumper sticker on his car. “Especially the first week. He was such a nice guy to everyone. He had so many friends. There were a lot of skateboarders at his wake and funeral.”
A year later, the site of the fatal accident still has a makeshift memorial that features two skateboard decks nailed to a tree in the shape of a cross.
In seeking a way to honor his friend, Hammond said a skate spot in his memory was the perfect memorial, especially in a town that doesn’t have a dedicated skateboarding area.
In the early stages of the planning process, he received a call from Mario, who asked what he could do to help.
In the video on Rally.org, Mario talks about the pain of losing his son and asks for any support for Hammond’s project to memorialize Nonnemacher.
“It’s been almost a year since we lost Jordan and not a day goes by when I think of the times we had together,” Mario said. “I laugh at some of the funny things he did and wish he were still here with us. Jordy is deeply missed and left a big hole in our hearts. He touched many lives and his big smile and great spirit will always shine down on us.”
The video was shot at the site of the dilapidated tennis courts at McGinn Park, where Hammond hopes to build the skating area. The site was chosen after he met with Town Manager Michael Embury and Al Southwick, the town’s parks and recreation director.
“The site is perfect,” Hammond said. “There’s no houses over there so it wouldn’t really bother anybody.”
When asked what Nonnemacher might think of a skate spot in his memory, Hammond responded: “He’d be happy. He would just be thrilled...having something to skate, that’s what it’s all about. That, and remembering Jordy.”
“He loved to skateboard and he loved his friends, he’d be so honored to have a skate spot in his memory,” he said in the video.