Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Unbelieveable Weekend

The past couple of days have been filled with all kinds of things -a few good things but all of it still tinged with the tragic events of Sunday evening when two people lost their lives in a terrible crash of four ATVs just down the road from my house.

Monday morning though is when things really turned strange as we began to get more reports on the accident. The worst was when my neighbors and I were told that one of the victims killed in the accident was the lady who owns the house to the left of my house. Early reports were that she, along with her fiance (who was driving the ATV) were the ones dead at the scene. Needless to say, that created a lot of major shock waves along our street in this small community.

However, while watching the noon news out of the Altoona tv channel, the reporter there gave the names of the people involved and the our former neighbor was listed as one of the injured who had been life-flighted to Altoona Hospital and the report then was that she was a patient there in "fair" condition. It definitely was a relief to learn she had not died at the scene. Granted there were two lives lost and one of them was her fiance -still a terrible and very tragic accident -but knowing she was not one of them, yes it was a big weight lifted from all of us, her former neighbors.

Monday afternoon, I gathered up one of my folding chairs and headed out to Drifting, to the "Cooper Grove" where the members of St. Severin's Catholic Church were holding the 133rd Annual Labor Day Picnic. As a kid, I remember always going out there for a little while with my oldest uncle as he loved to wander through the crowds present and meet up with many people he hadn't seen in years -since his childhood -or talk to folks he'd last seen the year before at the picnic.

Yesterday, a couple women who had graduated from high school a year ahead of me had tried to make plans for others from their class as well as from surrounding classes to meet up there and have a chance to talk and visit -get reaquainted. Naturally, I took my camera and did manage to get a couple pictures of those who reunited for a little while.

Here's the group of "girls" from the class of 1961 who came together - from left to right are Patsy Teats, Martha Nelson, Donna Schmidt, Norma Richards, Mary McGonigal, Doreen Kyler and Mary Horton. (These are the maiden names as I don't know the married names of some here.) For me, this was the first time in 47 years I had seen Patsy, Donna, and Mary Horton. Martha, I see frequently as she and I attend the same church, and Norma, I often see up at the local grocery store. Doreen, I did see about seven years back when she and her sister were in the vicinity and they had met up with a couple others from their class at the restaurant where I was working at the time. Needless to say, it was fun to see these folks again and to be able to visit for a little while.
In this picture above are Doreen Kyler with Byron "Bunny" Little -the only guy from the class of 1961 who ventured by our gathering. Bunny and his wife, Kay, live over the mountain from here but I do see them around the area from time to time. Always fun to see Bunny again as well as his wife, as both of them are really friendly, always remember people from this area too. Bunny was stationed at Quantico Marine base for a while back in the early sixties when I first went to work in D.C. so occasionally he was my transport from D.C. to home for a weekend along with two other guys from the 1961 class (Eddie Johnson and Gene "Pete" Peters, a guy from my class, John "Butch" Harvey and his old roommate, Mike Mickney, from the class of 1957. Ah, those were some fun days because all five of those guys often came to parties my roommates and I and some of our friends too had almost every weekend.

There were two others who joined our little group -Ed and Carol Folmar Nadzom -who live over in State College. Ed graduated in 1960 but grew up about two doors up the street from me and Carol graduated with me -class of 1962. Carol is also part of the group of "girls" from out class who get together for lunch on the last Thursday of the month -a nice get-together we started having last December. (Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of Carol and Ed -probably because when I get out in public like that, all too often, I develop more senility and forget about my camera being in my pocket or purse.

Shortly after I got back home from the picnic, a man appeared at my front door -a reporter from the Altoona Mirror who was working on writing up a story/report on the ATV accident and he was wondering if I could explain to him where the crash site was and if I knew anything more about the accident. I told him if he trusted me -and my driving -I would gladly drive him down to Peale and show him the section of the dirt road where these vehicles collided -head-on, apparently, according to the other news reports we'd received.

While down there, we met two couples -all members of the Snow Shoe Rails to Trails group -who spoke to the reporter, explained to him their rules/regulations for safely operating ATVs on the trails. Then, another vehicle came by and as it turned out that was the gentleman, now retired, who was the Chief of Police for the Cooper-Morris Township area. He is currently deputy coroner for our county too and as such, had been at the scene of the accident the night before too. So the reporter had a chance to speak to him too. Also, during our time at the scene, there were four people who drove down there on ATVs -not as a group, but single riders. The first three, we could hear them coming down the road and when they saw us there, they each turned around and headed back up to town. The fourth rider stopped and chatted with all of us for a spell. Not one of these ATV riders was wearing a helmet -something that the members of the Rails to Trails group as well as the former police chief had all stressed as being the number one thing for riding an ATV -but this particular young man I noticed was also cradling an open can of beer between his legs as well. Quite the circumstances there considering I know a few other "minor" details about him and he could have easily been reported for that offense.

I'm not going to go into major detail about this event but I will give you a link to the article that appeared in the Altoona Mirror this morning, written by the reporter I accompanied down to the accident site.

My only hope -and prayer -would be that any reading this article or the one that also appeared in the Centre Daily Times about the accident and who might have the opportunity to go riding an ATV in the back woods and on the back roads, would please observe safety measures as well as obeying the laws too. Riding ATVs is illegal on the roads -paved or dirt, as noted by the reporter in this article.


... Paige said...

Sorry to hear about the accident and loss of life. ATVs are just a dangerous as any other motor vehicle if not more so because most folks (not all) that ride them do not adhere to any safety advice.
Picnics are fun if it’s not too hot and too hot it is here. Glad you had a good time.

Suldog said...

Nothing much I can think of to say of any value. So sorry to hear about the accident. May God bless all involved.

terri said...

So sorry to hear about the accident and your neighbor's loss of her fiance. So sad, especially when something like this hits so close to home.

The get-together with former classmates sounds fun! Glad you found some enjoyment in the weekend too.

Maggie May said...

Sorry to hear about the accident. It is always a sad waste of life.

Mary said...


Most ATV and snowmobile accidents here are from neglect - not following the rules, such as drinking alcohol or excessive speed. It's a tragedy when someone dies because of these things, as the accident could have been avoided many times if the rules had have been followed. My sympathies on the injuries of your neighbor and the death of her fiance.

How are the children doing? The boys went back to school yesterday and seemed to be happy with their teachers. I'm hoping this year will be better, but we will see. The same principal and vice principal are there, so I don't expect it to be much different.


Kathryn said...

A reunion picnic. What fun! I was priviledged enough to attend my mom's 50th high school reunion with her (my dad has Alzheimer's and it would have been too difficult to take him with her) and it was so neat. Really interesting to meet people who had known my mom 50 years ago.

So sorry to hear of the accident. Prayers for you and those involved.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Gosh I am sorry to hear about the accident, its such a shock when these things happen. I lost a co-worker and friend to a car accident back in June- so devastating to lose someone in such a tragic way.

Minnesotablue said...

So sorry to hear about the accident. I have never been to a reunion other than family. Sounds like fun.

Smalltown RN said...

What a tragedy and loss of life. Yes safety first....here in BC even cyclists must wear helmets....we have ATV's and the kids are not allowed on them without helmets and proper gear...they also know that we only ride them on trails or off road....it only takes a moment for something to go wrong....

AS for your picnic....don't you just love gatherings like that....I can remember church pinics those always seemed to be the best....the races the watermelon....just loved them..

Sorry I havent been around in awhile....life is just flying by and I feel like I am racing to stay caught up.....all the best my friend....

dr sardonicus said...

All I can say is I'm sorry to hear of the accident, and may God comfort the victims and their families.

lattégirl said...

Hardly a weekend goes by in this part of Quebec without a few bad road accidents and fatalities, usually involving booze, excessive speed, tricky highway turns and guard rails over rivers or lakes.