May 25 marks the 25th anniversary of former Cal Poly Student Kristin Smart’s disappearance and, with the recent developments in her case, community members are looking for a way to honor Smart.
A walk for Kristin Smart is being held to commemorate the anniversary of her death and follows the route Smart is believed to have taken before her disappearance from the house she left on Crandall Way all the way back to her dorm at Cal Poly.
Most events that have been held in the past for Smart have been held in North San Luis Obispo County, since that is closer to the Smart family. However, this event is being held here as a way to be accessible to Cal Poly students.
Cal Poly student Elle Larson said she is excited to bring this awareness to her peers.
“A lot of the events have been up in North County and that's really hard for a lot of students to get to. This one will allow more students to be part of it,” Larson said. “It's really going to allow some people who've never heard of her or have never seen her – they're going to be able to see who she is, and maybe it'll get more people interested in her case.”
Not only is this event serving to raise awareness around Smart’s case, but Larson said it is a reminder of what happened to Smart herself.
“It also always makes me a little sad when I talk about Kristin, because I look around and see that it could happen to me, it could happen to any of my friends,” Larson said.
The walk’s organizer, Tessa Witkofsky, is hoping that the walk will raise awareness for student safety as well.
“The point of the walk is not only to honor Kristin, but also just to bring awareness of safety, and just to promote the buddy system,” Witkofsky.
Witkofsky is hosting the walk because she feels that she relates to Smart.
“I'm also just a beach girl. I come from San Diego. I relate to her on that level. I really just want to help her case and just help her parents find closure,” Witkofsky.
Relating to Smart is a large reason many students are ready to attend the event, such as Cuesta College student Alejandra Pinzon-Betancourt.
“I understand that some justice is being served at the moment. However, during this entire case, I have kept in mind how Kristen Smart was a student just like everybody is. She had this idea that she was going to move this town, she was going to further her education and it's just very upsetting,” Pinzon-Betancourt said.
Paul and Ruben Flores were recently arrested for their suspected role in Kristin Smart’s disappearance. Paul Flores was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail. Ruben Flores, Paul’s father, is being charged with being an accessory to the crime and was released on bail.
Cal Poly student Nishanth Narayan said the walk is his way of showing solidarity to these new judicial proceedings surrounding the case.
“I know that in this community, there's been a lot of collective pain around the case and the injustices around it. I think it's just a very good way to show solidarity and support, especially in the wake of the judicial proceedings that are going on right now,” Narayan said.
Witkofsky hopes that this walk will maintain the community’s momentum and support for Smart’s case.
“There's been a lot of breaks in the case and a lot of new evidence has been found,” Witkosky said. “There's moments of silence in the case, while authorities are figuring out what's going on, and some people lose hope, but it's just a really good idea to keep her name out there and keep the case in the light.”
The Walk for Kristin Smart is being held Tuesday May 25 at 6:30 p.m. starting at Crandall Way in San Luis Obispo.