KANE (AP) — Six people were killed in a head-on car crash on a highway in a northwestern Pennsylvania forest, including a 12-year-old cheerleader with an infectious smile and a 6-year-old boy described as a scrappy competitor in a variety of sports.
A sport utility vehicle crossed the center line on Saturday afternoon and hit an approaching sedan in Allegheny National Forest, killing Jarrett Costanzo, 6, and Olivia Douglas, 12, and injuring a woman and her 10-year-old son, all in the SUV, state police said.
Also killed in the crash were four adults in the sedan, including a husband and wife, all from St. Marys, just southeast of the forest.
The SUV’s driver, Kathy Douglas, of Kane, remained hospitalized in serious condition on Monday. A hospital spokeswoman declined to release information about the injured boy’s condition.
State police said the cause of the crash is under investigation.
St. Marys resident Stephanie Renwick, who lives across the street from two people killed in the sedan, driver Gary Beimel and his wife, Elaine Beimel, said they would be “very greatly missed.”
“They were wonderful people,” she said on Monday. “They were good friends and wonderful neighbors.”
Renwick, whose husband had worked with Gary Beimel, said the Beimels had a large family and were very family-oriented.
“They have two young children who recently married,” she said. “I have three young children, and they were always wonderful to them.”
The crash, which occurred about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, also killed sedan passengers David Cuneo and Florence Donachy.
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims on Sunday at the Kane Area Middle School football field, The Bradford Era reported. Many in the crowd wore football jerseys and cheerleader outfits from the Kane Tornadoes youth football team and the Kane Wolves.
Olivia Douglas, a cheerleader for the Tornadoes, was described as a vibrant girl with many friends who will be remembered for her smile and giggle as well as her hard work and dedication, the newspaper said.
Jarrett Costanzo, a student at Kane Area Elementary School, was remembered as a sports enthusiast and fierce competitor on the wrestling, football and Little League baseball teams. An obituary in the newspaper said he could often be seen on the sidelines because he loved to watch his older brothers play football.
“Jarrett’s smile could light up a room and he brought happiness to all those who knew him and even those who didn’t!” the notice said.
Wrestling coach John Nystrom said Jarrett was willing to compete against people several times his size and sometimes succeeded in taking down bigger opponents. Nystrom told the newspaper that the 6-year-old would take him down during practice and then say, “Get up, Coach!”