The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

November 10, 2013

Friends recall duo; wife, her husband

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON, BROOKFIELD — Four Sharon High School boys gathered at a cafeteria table Saturday morning, remembering in somber tones the friends they went to class with and laughed with the day before.

Jordan “Puppy” Davis, Tahan Broome, Curtis Seay and Alan Porreca managed to drop a few inside jokes and laughed and poked each other as they talked about fellow football players.

They said their friends, Corey Swartz, 18, Evan Gill, 17, and Craig and Greg Osmon, 17, were an integral part of their Tiger football family.

“They loved football,” Puppy said. “They loved playing. Football was their life.”

“Corey always had our back,” Tahan said. “Corey and Evan brought the team together.”

Paul Torr, athletic director, said the night before all the kids were really excited about their playoff game the next day and were looking for something to do.

Corey and Evan, both team captains, grabbed their buddies, the Osmon twins and Troy Hejazi, and headed for a playoff game in Hermitage.

Coach Jim Wildman gave the boys an 11 o’clock curfew, Torr said, so they were making their way home around 10.

After dropping Hejazi off at home, Swartz headed toward the West Hill where he grew up with the three other boys, Torr said.

They never made it completely around the curve on Connelly Boulevard under the Oakland Avenue viaduct before fate would take the lives of the two football captains and seriously injure the others.

Their teammates were adamant about wanting to go through with the game.

“Corey and Gill wouldn’t want it to end this way,” Puppy said. “This is our first playoff game. I feel like we’re gonna win this game.”

Corey and Evan served as role models to the football team, according to Alan. Mike Calla, superintendent of Sharon schools, said the pair came together with the other 12 seniors on the team this year to lead them into the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Corey, who wore uniform No. 9, was captain of special teams. He also played wide receiver and safety.

“He was one of my best friends,” Puppy said. “He was good in sports, energetic – I love him to death.”

Evan, No. 67, was part of the offensive line as left guard. According to his teammates, he added comic relief to their days.

“He was someone you could talk to about everything,” Tahan said. “I can’t believe they’re gone, just like that.”

“I’ll always remember number 67 and 9,” Puppy said.

Evan and Corey were two in a class of 110 who have mostly been together since at least 7th grade, Calla said.

“These were really great kids, but we can’t forget the other three victims in the other car,” Calla said. “Our prayers are with those families also.”

John Zdelar, 50, who also died in the accident, was a “Brookfield boy through and through,” Kim Zdelar, his wife of four years, said.

Kim said the two knew eachother since high school and after they both divorced, they reconnected.

“He’s such a wonderful person. He took care of us,” Kim said. “He was a great stepdad to my three kids.”

John had just turned 50 and he was so excited, she said. He was getting a new tractor, since he farmed on his dad’s property in the evening, Kim said.

In addition, he was the crew chief for Rex King Brothers Racing at Sharon Speedway for 20 years and worked a full-time job by day.

“He supported us while I finished my college degree,” Kim said. “Things were looking good. We were getting on our feet and had a lot of things to look forward to.”

Kim said she goes back and forth between being really sad and really mad about the accident she said ended her world as she knew it.

“Johnny never had a chance,” Kim said. “A good man lost his life.”