Redemption, recovery for friend, family after accident
Five years ago, Robby Moser couldn’t sound taps on his trumpet at his best friend’s funeral.
He was too emotional. It had only been five days since he stood alongside Daniel Ferraro when the bomb they built exploded – taking his friend’s life.
On Jan. 2, Moser will have a chance to perform in memory of his best friend when the now-Yale graduate student leads a concert at Center Pointe Christian Church in Liberty Township to benefit the Daniel Ferraro Memorial Fund.
Jan. 2, 2008
Ferraro, of West Chester, was a 19-year-old sophomore and Naval ROTC member at Miami University who was supposed to be on a ski trip. After coming down with a cold, he decided against it.
Feeling better, Ferraro called his friend Moser and requested that he pick up gunpowder from Target World and a steel pipe from ACE Hardware. They were going to make a bomb and Ferraro was going to videotape the explosion.
With the materials on hand, Ferraro drilled a hole through the pipe and clogged the ends. He then filled the pipe with the gunpowder and finished constructing the explosive in his bedroom. Ferraro then grabbed a video camera, the pipe bomb and went outside.
Ferraro placed the bomb in his childhood fort in the backyard, lit the fuse, ran back to stand by Moser, held up the camera and waited.
“I just remember a flash and his body hitting the ground,” Moser said.
Shrapnel from the pipe and from the fort filled the air. Pieces shot through the house and some hit Ferraro in his face.
Moser stared. His best friend’s face was gone. He tried calling 911, but he couldn’t stop shaking.
“I looked down at Daniel and I knew he was dead,” Moser said. “I was really, really shocked. I didn’t know what to do.”
Ferraro’s sisters, Alyssa, a senior at Lakota East High School at the time, and Victoria, a senior at Miami University, were watching television. When they heard the explosion, Alyssa called 911.
A neighbor called Daniel’s father, Tony, who was at work as an energy engineer at Miami University. The voice on the other line said, “Get home. It is not good.”
When Tony Ferraro arrived home, emergency vehicles lined the street. The bomb squad was parked in his driveway and he wasn’t allowed in his house. He waited at a neighbor’s house until his son was taken away in a body bag.
The shock of his son’s death was difficult to deal with.
“I am the type of person who is always trying to fix something, but I couldn’t fix it,” Tony Ferraro said. “You just have to use your coping mechanisms and tell yourself that at least I got to spend 19 years with him.”
The nightmare has never ended for the Ferraros or for Moser.
Tony and his wife, Kathy, who taught at Lakota East at the time, eventually divorced. They had to rent out their home because it was unbearable to look into their own backyard.
It also wasn’t easy for Moser, who was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, when he lost his best friend.
“I would still keep Dan’s phone number and sometimes call it and leave a voicemail asking for him to call me back,” Moser said. “I am not sure why I did that.”
He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and illegally manufacturing or possessing explosives, both felonies.
He received support from the community and from his best friend’s parents, and eventually pled guilty to two misdemeanors – negligent homicide and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child. Both charges carried maximum prison terms of six months and $1,000 fines.
To avoid prison, Moser was put on probation for three years and was required to complete 80 hours of community service, where he would have to talk about his experience.
Sharing the story of that tragic day with high school students and young prisoners aided the healing process.
He was sharing a message that many young adults fail to grasp: “You are not invincible.”
Today, Moser is working on his master’s degree in music at Yale University. He plays his trumpet 10 hours per day and every time he opens the case he sees a picture of Daniel Ferraro.
“Every day I think of Dan,” Moser said. “For me, (the concert) is kind of the last piece to the puzzle. It helps me cope with it. It is hard to explain but it is a little easier (for me) with music.”
Moser said the songs in the 45-minute concert, featuring fellow musicians from Yale’s music program, will help his friend’s memory live on.
“I am very excited to do this concert just because bringing the community back together and also having some of Dan’s friends come will be a great way to show that we aren’t going to forget him,” Moser said.
The concert, which was organized by Moser and Daniel’s father, will be the first official fundraiser for the Daniel Ferraro Memorial Fund, which provides funding for Boy Scouts working on their Eagle Scout projects.
With $5,000 raised for the fund at Daniel’s funeral, the program has already helped five young men earn the highest attainable rank in scouting.
“A big part of his life was scouting,” Tony said. “He loved it … We felt that this would be a good place to do some kind of benefit and put it in his memory.’’
If you go
What: Daniel Ferraro Memorial Fund Concert, a 45-minute benefit concert. Yale University graduate student Robby Moser, who was a close friend of Ferraro, will perform, along with other musicians from Yale, including pianist Austin Wade of West Chester.
When: 6 p.m. Jan. 2
Where: Center Pointe Christian Church, 5962 Hamilton-Mason Road, Liberty Township
Cost: Donation of $10 per person suggested
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