SALT LAKE CITY — A trio of Utah college students got an unexpected souvenir on their trip to Washington, D.C. — a selfie with President Obama.
"After it happened, we all talked about it. 'This does not happen,'" said Camden Smith, a Utah Valley University student. "It's one thing to meet the president at a fundraiser or something that you know is going to happen a month in advance. It was a very personal experience with him."
Smith is road-tripping across the country with his two best friends, BYU student Brandon Goodman and recent University of Utah graduate Dan Bishop. The three men have lived next door to each other since 1996 and are on their way to drop Goodman off in New York City for a summer internship.
"It definitely made the road trip a story for the ages," Smith said on a call from the friends' car.
The three friends put themselves in a lucky spot Wednesday when they inadvertently darted past a roadblock to try to shoo some baby ducks out of the road. As they did, a police officer hurried over, Bishop said.
"The cop said, 'You're going to miss the real show if you're more interested in the ducks,'" said Bishop, who looked up the street and saw the president stepping out of a nearby building. "The timing was perfect. We kind of ran toward him, and Camden got his attention by shouting, 'Hey, President Obama!'"
The president responded, and amused by the Utahns who continued to follow his entourage down the street, agreed to take a picture. After the trio had been checked out by Secret Service agents and bomb-sniffing dogs, of course.
"What was really neat was he shook all of our hands and asked our names, then looked us all in the eye and said, 'Dan, Camden and Brandon, nice to meet you guys,'" Bishop recalled.
Bishop and Goodman posed with the president and two other bystanders while Smith took a picture.
Smith said he didn't mind. He once bumped into Arnold Schwarzenegger shooting a "Terminator" film but regretted taking a picture rather than shaking his hand and chatting with him.
"I figured if something were ever to happen again like that, I would keep my phone away and just live in the moment," Smith said. "I'm completely happy with it."
As a sidenote, Bishop said it was fascinating to witness the logistics involved when the president of the United States wants to go for a stroll.
"The funny thing is, my friends and I, put us three together and we can pretty much do anything we want," Bishop said.
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