Three from Fayette City killed in Md. crash

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Three people from Fayette City were killed in a car crash Tuesday morning after they climbed into a Ford Mustang and drove nearly 100 miles to Maryland.

It was a trip without a destination, said their friends: just a joyride. But when John Charles Butcher, 42, crashed the car near a curve on Interstate 68, killing himself, Dawn Breckenridge, 46, and Mark Veltre, 21, the impact rattled their tiny home deeply.

"The whole town is really upset about it," said Tammy Bullied, who said that nearly everyone knows each other in Fayette City. "It's affected a lot of people."

The crash's only survivor, 18-year-old Rachel Ankrom, also of Fayette City, was in stable condition Wednesday at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center. Maryland state police said Ms. Ankrom was found by a highway worker at about 8 a.m. Tuesday, sitting on the side of the road.

The three people who were killed were ejected from the car, which flew over an embankment and rolled hundreds of feet down a hill, police said. The crash happened between Cumberland, Md., and Flintstone, Md., near Rocky Gap State Park.

State troopers Wednesday were still investigating the crash. They said that Mr. Butcher, the driver, was traveling at a high rate of speed. They did not know Wednesday whether alcohol was involved or if seat belts were in use.

According to court records, Mr. Butcher had previously been charged with driving offenses. He was charged in 1997 with driving under the influence and had pleaded guilty to several traffic offenses in recent years.

Several Fayette City residents said Ms. Breckenridge was a community pillar: a woman with a unique laugh, a kind heart and a warm outlook. She was the mother of two teen-age boys whose father died years ago.

"Everybody knew Dawn. And that's why everybody is so affected by it. She was a great woman. It's a loss," said Ms. Bullied.

"She had a tough life, but there was nothing that she had that she wouldn't give to someone in need," her friend Chelsea Roberts wrote in a message.

Mr. Veltre, the 21-year-old who was killed, had moved to Fayette City many years ago from Belle Vernon, said his grandfather, Ralph Clark.

"Mark was a really nice boy," Mr. Clark said. He declined to comment further.

Mr. Veltre and Ms. Ankrom had been dating, according to several people who knew them.

"From what I understand, they were just having a joyride," said Stephanie Trembush, Ms. Ankrom's friend.

Mr. Butcher's relatives could not be reached for comment.


Vivian Nereim: vnereim@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1413.


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