The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

December 31, 2013

Fatal crash tops year’s headlines

Freeway tragedy, businessman’s murder rank 1-2

MERCER COUNTY AREA — In any given year, murders, fatal fires and car crashes grab headlines. That held true in a poll of Herald news staffers on the top stories of 2013 – based strictly on headline value.

The top story for 2013 was the Nov. 8 two-vehicle crash on the Shenango Valley Freeway in Sharon that claimed the lives of three people. Two were Sharon High School senior football players Corey Swartz and Evan Gill, and the third was 50-year-old John Zdelar Jr. of Brookfield.

Two other Sharon football players, twins Craig and Greg Osmon, were injured in the crash, as were Zedlar’s stepson Evan Wallace, 10, and a neighbor friend, Blake Yendrek, 12.

The story amassed 90 points as all nine Herald staffers voted it the top headline story of the year based on a 10-point scale.

The tragedy caused ripple effects of grief across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Valley residents and schools pulled together in various ways in support of the families and the playoff-bound Sharon team. Many expressed their concern through unsolicited gifts of money, leading to the Sharon School Board’s approval of “the football players fund” to benefit the families.

The second-ranked story of 2013 for its headline value – garnering 70 points – was the July slaying of Greenville businessman Frank Crash. Police said someone broke into Crash’s Hempfield Township home, stabbed him more than 70 times, and made off with some of his belongings.

Details of progress in the investigation have been kept under wraps. Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems says investigators continue interviewing people and gathering evidence, and that there is no new information to report.

No. 3 on the list was a shooting in February when a Youngstown man broke into a Pymatuning Township woman’s home and shot her in the back. Jessi Hudson, 22, is serving a 10- to 20-year sentence in jail as part of a plea agreement offered by Kochems. The deal, which Kochems later apologized for making, allowed a slew of charges to be dropped, including attempted homicide, and drew the criticism of the victim’s family. The story received 57 points.

Another tragedy involving a Sharon school student was the shooting death of sophomore basketball player Le’Angelo “Lee Lee” Crumby Ford, 17, in January. He was shot in the chest by Jontae Barnes, 19, at a gathering of young people in a Strawbridge Avenue home. Barnes is currently serving 2 years in jail. The story was fourth with 56 points.

The fifth-place story for its headline value, with 41 points, was the murder trials convicting Joshua Stewart and Devine Campbell in the 2011 shooting death of Farrell bar owner William “Bill” Basilone. Both were sentenced to life in prison.

Other stories packing headline punch included the physical attack on Sharon football Coach Jim Wildman in his home (40 points); the announced sale of Sharon Regional Health System (32 points); and the stabbing of a Sharon Regional emergency room employee (31).

Coming Wednesday: The top stories of 2013 based on their long-term significance.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Farrell man, 24, arrested on warrant in connection with April shooting

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April shootout in Sharon.


    Pinkins, 24, of Farrell, is in Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond on gun charges.

    Additional details to follow.
     

    July 25, 2014

  • Firm will study timing of traffic signals

    Hermitage commissioners on Wednesday hired Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP to study the timing scheme of traffic signals along parts of Hermitage Road and East State Street.

    July 25, 2014

  • 3 area fire depts. awarded grants

    Three area fire departments will share in more than $590,000 in grants meant to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced.

    July 25, 2014

  • One suspect in home shooting is jailed

    The first of three suspects police say were involved in an attempted robbery that ended in a shooting is in jail.

    July 25, 2014

  • Dancing kids K.I.D.S. day

    Hoping to reach children at just the right age, when they are old enough to understand but not past the point where it may be too late, Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission counselors held an “alternative activities” day at the courthouse Thursday, complete with music and dancing, hot dogs and treats, games and T-shirts.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo