Friends seek way to learn from loss of Char Valley students in crash
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The first day of summer ended in tragedy for a group of Chartiers Valley High School teenagers, and some in the community are looking for a way to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
As they traveled along two-lane Scotts Run Road in Collier in the early evening June 20, their vehicle went out of control, striking a tree and a pole.
Scott Katonka, 15, of Scott, was ejected from the car and killed. Four other survived the one-vehicle crash, though at least one was treated for injuries. Allegheny County police are investigating the accident.
The accident has both devastated and united the community.
"There are a lot of people pulling together," said one parent, who noted kids are gathering on their own in small groups to mourn.
The William Slater II Funeral Home in Scott was packed Sunday, with many standing in line 20 to 30 minutes to say good-bye to Scott, a high school and amateur hockey player who had just completed his freshman year. He was buried on Monday.
There also has been talk about putting together an initiative to alert teens the fact that anyone can become a victim in an instant.
"Kids always think they're invincible," said Collier police Chief Tom Devin.
Because school is out for the summer, the Rev. Jodi Flack, pastor of the Rennerdale United Presbyterian Church, has offered the use of her church for such a program.
Doreen Ducsay of Collier believes an intervention is imperative.
"If the school isn't going to do this, then the community has to," she said. "I think an intervention would be a plus. It would be a healing process."
Mrs. Ducsay, a former Collier commissioner and board president, was the organizer of the August 2009 L. A. Fitness shooting memorial that attracted more than 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, Chartiers Valley residents are expressing their sorrow and support in myriad ways.
One parent who is a tattoo artist airbrushed a large board with a painting of Scott's hockey jersey that has been placed at the accident site. Visitors to the roadside memorial are signing the board and leaving flowers.
A number of fundraisers to help the Katonka family pay for funeral expenses are under way in Chartiers Valley communities, too.
Scott is survived by his parents, Sue and Scott Katonka and sisters Annie and Sara.
First Published June 28, 2012 5:09 am