By Lindsay Mower, Staff Writer

UMF Students Kyle Sareyani and FInn Hopkins O'Neil in the Emergency Room after their accident (Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Mower)

UMF Students Finn Hopkins O’Neil (left) and Kyle Sareyani (right)  in the Emergency Room after their accident (Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Mower)

Two UMF students and members of the Experimental Arts Ensemble crushed their hands in an accident over winter break while on a music trip to Cleveland, Ohio to perform in a concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The two young men, Kyle Sareyani and Finn Hopkins O’Neil, said that the incident happened while unloading crates of instruments from a shipping truck on Monday morning, the first day they were to have rehearsal using those same instruments. They said that the accident happened during the process of trying to put the ramp back in the truck just after they had finished unloading the crates. That was when the truck unexpectedly lurched back and violently pinned both of their hands in place. Sareyani’s injury was the more severe of the two, shattering his dominant hand. He spent the entire day in the emergency room getting fit for a cast. O’Neil, who suffered only a mild contusion, also spent some time in the emergency room but was able to return to the rehearsal later in the day. The students, now back in Maine and in their spring semester of classes, are on their way to full recovery.

Sareyani, one of the initial planners who made the trip possible, said, “I was really surprised at the fact that it had actually happened.” He said the second thought he had after hurting his hand was realizing that he wouldn’t be able to play music for the entire first day that the ensemble was in Cleveland.

O’Neil said the event was not so scary but was “more just disappointing” after also realizing that he would no longer be able to play his instrument.

“The pain peaked in the hospital and was about a 7 or 8 on a scale from 1-10.” said O’Neil. “When it initially happened everything was just numb, and it was numb for a while until I realized that it actually hurt a lot.”

Gustavo Aguilar, Assistant Professor of Experimental Performance at UMF, was the lead facilitator for the trip to Cleveland. Aguilar said that he received a call from a colleague, Thomas Welsh, Director of Performing Arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art, explaining that the museum was in urgent need for an ensemble to perform in the Intonarumori Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners for a concert that was taking place that week, or the concert would have to be cancelled. Aguilar said that in about nine hours he successfully managed to pull together a group of students willing to participate in the week-long trip and they made the tedious car ride to Cleveland to participate in the concert just a few days later.

“It just happened that everything was at the right place at the right time,” said Aguilar.  Aguilar said he felt terrible about the injuries, mostly about the pain the students had to endure.

“I think partially it did ruin the trip a little bit for Kyle and Finn, I don’t think anybody wants to be in that kind of pain. That was my main concern, but I think they were troopers anyway,” said Aguilar.

Audrey Gidman is a member of the UMF Arts Ensemble who was in a separate room during the time of the incident. “It was a very tense day,” she said. “We were all being updated every couple of hours on what was happening in the hospital.” Despite the serious accident, Sareyani was able to remain optimistic about the entire situation.

“I was just sort of like: Well this sucks, but let’s address the problem, and make sure Finn gets some ice,” he said.

O’Neil mentioned the fact that he remains no stranger to freak accidents, as he recently suffered an injury when concert equipment crushed his foot this past summer.

The students said that the whole experience reminded them to have proper supervision in someone else’s place of establishment so that situations like they found themselves in can be avoided.