Sharon superintendent: Speed likely a factor in crash that killed 2 football players, Ohio man

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Two football players from Sharon High School were killed and two were injured following a head-on collision Friday night that also killed the driver of the other vehicle.

The crash occurred on the eve of a first-round playoff game that was scheduled for today at 1 p.m. in Erie.

Sharon police said in a news release that investigators do not suspect alcohol, drugs or texting in the crash.

Instead, said Michael Call, acting superintendent of the Sharon City School District, the culprit might be speed.

Killed were seniors Corey Swartz, 18; Evan Gill, 17; and the driver of the other vehicle, John Zdelar Jr., 50, of Brookfield, Ohio.

Injured were students Craig and Greg Osmon, who are 17-year-old twins, and two children in Mr. Zdelar's vehicle, Evan Wallace, 10, and Blake Yenderak, 12.

“They feel that speed was probably a factor and the car that Corey was driving, he lost control and he may have overcompensated and ended up in the lane with the other vehicle,” Mr. Calla said this afternoon.

He said he had gotten that information directly from Sharon police Chief Michael J. Menster.

Chief Menster could not be reached for comment.

The teammates had gone to watch a playoff football game at Hickory High School in Hermitage. They were returning home, trying to make it before the team's 11 p.m. curfew, when the crash occurred around 10:05 p.m. between Mr. Swartz's sport utility vehicle and Mr. Zdelar's pickup truck.

Mr. Calla called the incident “a tremendous tragedy, a tremendous loss to the community and the school. These were senior leaders, leaders on the football field, leaders in the school itself. It'll  be a  loss felt for a long, long time in Sharon.”

He visited Sharon Regional Health System last night along with other administrators, coaches and members of the football team. Students cried and swapped stories, Mr. Calla said. Grief counselors were made available and will continue to assist students and adults Monday.

Mr. Calla said the playoff game between the Sharon Tigers and Girard Yellow Jackets will be played Monday, although a time has not been chose. That decision was made after football coach Jim Wildman consulted with the families of the injured and deceased players, all of whom said their children would want the game to go on, Mr. Calla said.

"It's always a very devastating kind of event to all concerned and even for people not involved in Sharon or Sharon athletics,  it does kind of touch you deeply, and it’s very, very unfortunate," said Pete Iacino, secretary and Mercer County representative to the PIAA District 10 committee.

“Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the two students that were killed and the two students injured and also to the entire Sharon community. It's a pretty tight-knit community.”

The crash occurred on Connelly Boulevard, just west of the Oakland Avenue viaduct.

Jonathan D. Silver:, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg. First Published November 9, 2013 11:37 AM


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