The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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February 28, 2009

Teacher, coach killed in freeway crash

SHENANGO VALLEY — Melissa L. Miller, a Farrell teacher and West Middlesex volleyball coach, died about 10:30 p.m. Friday in a one-car crash on the Shenango Valley Freeway in Hermitage.

Judging by the reactions of students Carole Borkowski saw Saturday, the death of the fifth-grade teacher will have a profound affect on the Farrell school community.

Ms. Borkowski, the Farrell elementary principal, said she informed students who attended Saturday’s tutoring of the death of Ms. Miller, 35, of 439 Orchard Road, Lackawannock Township. Some of the students who had Ms. Miller last year were so overcome by emotion that they were unable to stay for tutoring, she said.

“It’s devastating,” Ms. Borkowski said. “It’s so hard for them to understand. She shared her children with them. It’s like a family. She was an excellent teacher who will be missed by the students.”

The response was echoed at West Middlesex High School, where Ms. Miller led the volleyball team to a league championship this year, her first year, and ran the junior high program. West Middlesex school officials had counselors available Saturday for students who knew her.

“They were devastated,” athletic director Mike Williams said of her athletic charges. “Death is really something, it’s really tragic for kids to handle.”

Personally, “My heart’s broken,” Williams said.

The loss of Ms. Miller — who is survived by a daughter and two sons — is likely to be felt throughout the area.

For the complete story, see Sunday's Herald.

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