A 28-year-old Randolph man who had gotten married just six days earlier died Friday evening, July 20, after diving into the Adams Brook swimming hole off Route 66 just outside of Randolph village.
According to a release from state police, Zachary J. Allard dove from a rock outcropping into the water, shortly after arriving at the popular roadside swimming hole.
Police said the water was “extremely shallow,” and Allard was unresponsive upon impact. He was pulled from the water by family members, who “began resuscitative efforts until rescuers arrived.”
Responders included White River Valley Ambulance, Randolph Village Fire Department, state police, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Allard was pronounced dead at the scene by rescuers.
In the press release, Det. Sgt. Eric Albright said Allard’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy, to assist in determining cause of death.
Albright said in a phone call yesterday that he has not yet received autopsy results. Swimming holes, he pointed out, have their deeper and shallower spots, and most have been shallower than usual, due to the hot, dry summer. The water where Allard dove in, he said, was “literally five inches deep,” with a sandbar at the bottom.
The swimming hole is just a few minutes’ walk from the Route 66 home that Allard shared with his new wife, Angela Allard and daughters. Allard, who had been the two girls’ “unofficial father” for the past few years, had become their official dad July 14, when Zack and Angela were married.
Allard’s father, Andy Allard of Braintree, said his son frequently swam at the Adams Brook swimming hole. It appeared, he said, that earlier rains may have carried a quantity of silt into the pool, making it much shallower than it had been.
Although not “a giant risk taker,” Allard said, his son was “a bit of a wild man when it came to jumping.” For example, after shoveling off his dad’s roof, the younger Allard would jump down, instead of using the ladder.
Although the two of them had some years when they “didn’t get along,” Allard added, that all changed when his son moved back to Vermont three years ago, after living in California and Connecticut for a time.
Allard said his son made a point of stopping by to visit two or three times a week: “He never wanted anything—he just wanted to hang out.”
“Not did I only lose a son, I lost my best friend,” he added.
The Allard family has tangled with terrible tragedy before. Zachary and his younger brother Nathan Allard were just setting off on a road trip to visit their mother in Connecticut in 2007 when Zachary, then 17, lost control of the pickup he was driving. It overturned and Nathan was killed in the crash.
Allard said the earlier death, awful as it was, in some ways leaves him “more mentally prepared” to handle this new loss.
“I feel worse for Angela and the girls, compared to myself,” he said. “They have a long road ahead of them.”
Learning a Trade
Allard’s first step, after returning to Vermont three years ago, was landing a job.
Les Brownell, of Windows and Doors by Brownell in Williston, recalled that he first hired Allard, part-time, to help with a project in West Lebanon.
“Zack was just trying to find himself and see where he was going,” Brownell said. “We could see that he had a pretty great work ethic and was willing to learn.
“He worked hard for me,” Brownell said. “He would do anything and he wanted to learn a trade.”
During the three years in his employ, Brownell said, Allard picked up new skills at an “astonishing rate.”
And then there was—as his friends and family in this area knew only too well—the matter of the company hats and shirts, emblazoned with “Marvin Windows,” that Allard wore pretty much around the clock. This Brownell learned only after looking at photos of Zack in the wake of his death.
“If he was at a beach, dancing in a bar, at his rehearsal dinner— he had on that shirt and hat,” said Brownell, adding, “When you work alongside a bunch of guys eight, nine, ten hours a day, that’s a second family. I was proud to work with him.”
Shortly after he started working for Brownell, Zack Allard and Angela Currier happened to play together in a benefit softball tournament. The two had both attended elementary school in Braintree and high school in Randolph, but they had never connected until he returned to Vermont.
“After that game, we started dating,” Angela Allard said this week.
The two were soon living together, and the 20-something Zack Allard gained two daughters—Angela’s from a previous relationship—at the same time.
“They loved him,” Angela Allard said, “He was a fantastic father.”
Zack brought his own youngster to the family—a young beagle named Roxy.
Allard’s sister, Ashley Allard of Granville, who accompanied Angela during a short interview at The Herald Tuesday, said her brother “did a lot of changing with Angela, in good ways … She definitely got him turned around and got him in a good direction.”
Two years ago, the couple bought a fixer-upper on Route 66, and were beginning to do repairs. This year, they put playing softball on hold in order to plan a wedding. Angela made Zack take off the Marvin Windows hat long enough to get rid of the tan line on his forehead.
This week, two of Zack Allard’s longtime friends reflected on how he grew from an elementary school cut-up and a “headstrong teenager” into a loving, hardworking friend, husband, and father.
Thomas Jacobs, best man at the July 14 wedding, devoted a good portion of his good-humored speech that night to some of the early-year escapades that repeatedly got Zack—and his friends, as well—into trouble.
Now, himself a teacher, Jacobs said he recognized in Allard “that kid who makes my job hard—but who I wouldn’t, for a moment, not want to have in class.”
“It was a gift of his to make others smile and laugh,” Jacobs said. “He was somebody you wanted to be around.”
“He was just my best friend,” said Chris Sparadeo of Randolph.
“He was not a gigantic figure in our community—and he would never want to be,” Sparadeo added. “But he was an inspiring presence that people felt anywhere he went— so kind and humble.”
Zack Allard “became his best person” on his wedding day, Sparadeo said, adding, “That’s what makes it so tricky: he had his entire life ahead of him, he had so much to live for, he had so many promises to keep … you know, married for six days.”
An outpouring of support is helping Angela Currier Allard and daughters Jordan, 13, and Cameron, 10, cope with the shocking reversal in their lives.
Angela, who works in the human resources department at Gifford Medical Center, is again a single mom, now one with a mortgage, a fixer-upper to repair, and Zack’s dog, Roxy, who is in need of expensive surgery.
An online “Support for Zachary Allard’s Family” drive started Monday morning on the website gofundme.com has already received $26,700 in pledges. You can contribute here.
-- SANDY VONDRASEK