SARANAC LAKE - Chris Lampart, who grew up in Lake Clear, died Wednesday when he was hit by a car in his hometown of Enfield, near Ithaca.
A 1995 Subaru Impreza struck the 43-year-old as he walked across a main thoroughfare - Mecklenburg Road, part of state Route 79 - at 6:19 p.m., according to state police. He had reportedly just gotten off a bus on his regular commute route home from his job as a cook at GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca.
"He was watching traffic in one direction, and he didn't happen to see the car coming in the other direction," his mother Martha Lampart told the Enterprise Friday. "There were some dips in the road, and the car was hidden. He couldn't see it - at least that's what we were told.
Chris Lampart is seen on a recent hike in Tompkins County near Ithaca.
(Photo provided by the Lampart family)
"He had headsets on, and things like that do have a tendency to mess you up."
He was declared dead at the scene. Police did not charge the driver of the car, 21-year-old Michael Soule, also of Enfield.
The death has shocked and saddened people in the Saranac Lake area, where his parents Floyd and Martha Lampart live.
Adding to the amazement is the fact that last year, Floyd rode a bicycle 11,346 miles around the perimeter of the continental U.S. without getting hurt, yet his son was killed in a routine street crossing.
"We've talked about it: It's like, OK, how come this happened this time?" Martha said. "When Floyd was (on his bike trip), he could have been involved in so many things, but it wasn't him. It wasn't his turn."
Chris Lampart was born in Plattsburgh in 1970, and later that year the family moved to Lake Clear: first to a mobile home near the airport and then to a house on Forest Home Road where Floyd and Martha still live. He's the younger of their two sons; his brother Carl lives in Texas.
Martha said Chris had a special love of theater while growing up here.
"He was my little actor," she said.
Jessica Deeb of Saranac Lake is a retired teacher who directed children's musical theater for a quarter-century before stepping down this fall. She said she remembers Chris as a student in her middle school math class - "really, really intelligent" - and later as a teenage actor.
"He was like 17 the first year I directed, but I did direct him in the Community Theatre Players' spring musical, 'Camelot,'" Deeb said. She thought he was "fabulous" as the villain, King Arthur's misguided son Morded.
She also recalled him playing a leading role in "Guys and Dolls," which Joan Frank directed.
"He usually had the character-type parts," Deeb said. "He wasn't really the leading man type - very gifted, but he had this unusual look and was very good in the character parts."
After graduating from Saranac Lake High School in 1988, Chris moved to Ithaca and attended Ithaca College for a while. He didn't finish, but his mother says he "fell in love with Ithaca" and stayed there. About a year ago he moved out of the city to Enfield, about 8 miles west, and loved it there, his mother said.
Martha described her son as a reader and "an individual.
"He lived life his own way," she said. "He didn't want to be what everybody else wanted to be. He just wanted to be himself. ... He was not one to conform to everyday lifestyles that people feel they have to live in."
He was active on Facebook, with 750 friends and an obvious interest in music, especially punk and alternative artists.
He had worked at GreenStar Cooperative Market since 2004 and was well liked by his co-workers, Marketing Manager Joe Romano told the Enterprise Friday. Employees gathered after work Thursday in Chris' honor.
"We were just all reminiscing, telling stories and hugging each other because it's been a blow - a shock to all of us," Romano said. "We have had counselors on hand here for staff, especially today, it's been in the paper (the Ithaca Journal). The second day, people are starting to feel it in a real way.
"He was an independent spirit and loved to talk about music and film and just about everything, really," Romano added. "The one word that kept coming up yesterday was how sweet he was, what a sweet soul he was, and I guess that's how we'll remember him."
Martha said she and Floyd are getting through this difficult time with the help of friends from the local circles they're involved in: St. Bernard's Catholic Church, the Tri-Lakes Humane Society, a dog club and her quilting group.
"It doesn't replace him, but it's nice to know that other people thought of him," she said. "We appreciate all of the support and the interaction. It means a lot."
She said Chris' death doesn't make her afraid to cross streets or drive; rather, she sees it as something that "was just meant to be.
"I'm a firm believer in, if it was meant to be, it's gonna happen."
Contact Peter Crowley at 518-891-2600 ext. 22 or firstname.lastname@example.org.