Car Crashes into Living Room – Two Hospitalized

Applewold and East Franklin Township fire crews work to stabilize a roof along East Brady Road after a car smashed into the house about 9:30PM last night. The vehicle driver and one of the home residents were flown to regional hospitals.

By Jonathan Weaver

Two people were flown to a regional hospital after a sedan crashed into a person’s house last night in East Franklin Township.

One helicopter took off near the East Franklin Township fire station and another from a helipad at ACMH Hospital. The helicopters – both in-route to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh – contained the male vehicle driver – identified this morning by state police as Travis Confer, 21 of Kittanning – and a 46-year-old female resident in the house at the time.

Confer is said to have suffered injuries to his neck as well as minor cuts, while the woman is said to have a head injury of unknown severity.

Shortly after 9:30PM, Applewold and East Franklin Township firefighters were paged to respond to 531 East Brady Road (Route 268) – about a mile from Montgomery Road where fire police restricted vehicle traffic.

East Franklin Township Second Assistant Chief Matt Kutch was getting ready to go to bed when the pager went off.

“It came in as a vehicle into a house, and after the ambulance went in-route, (9-1-1 dispatchers) came back with an update and said the homeowner advised that there is a vehicle upside-down in their living room,” Kutch said. “They didn’t want to leave the house.”

Kutch said the home residents – one male and one female – both walked out of the structure. A third also suffered minor cuts to his back and arms, according to State Police troopers.

Firefighters were also concerned that another person besides the injured driver could have been buried in the vehicle.

“We weren’t 100 percent sure – that’s why we put the shoring up and called H.O.S.T for additional shoring so we could secure the house and make sure it was safe for everybody to go in and do a few searches of the house,” Kutch said.

Firefighters did not find anybody inside after accounting for the two inside the residence and the driver.

Kutch was officer-in-charge at the incident – where firefighters worked for more than two hours to get the car removed from the residence (also home to local business “After 5 Repair”). Bowser Towing of Worthington reversed into the front yard after debris and cribbing was carefully removed and dragged out the 2006 silver four-door Hyundai Sonata upside-down before flipping it a few yards away.

“It actually came out pretty-smooth – a lot better than I thought it would,” Kutch said.

The vehicle crashed into the house’s aluminum siding and firefighters could see – and walk – into the living room. Half of a front window, front porch furniture, and wooden planks also littered the front yard as firefighters were assessing the accident.

Two State Police units – at one time at least three state troopers – and two Kittanning #6 emergency medical responders stayed at the site for the duration.
State Police troopers have not revealed the identities of the homeowners, and said the crash investigation is ongoing but alcohol is suspected.

Firefighters from H.O.S.T left the scene about midnight

Kutch said it was the first car accident of its kind that he responded to in his 16-year volunteer career.

The house was considered to be structurally-unstable, and the non-injured resident was seen getting supplies to vacate the scene for the night. Kutch and East Franklin Township Fire Chief Mark Feeney spread danger tape around the residence before firefighters left the scene shortly after midnight.

First Energy and People’s Gas officials also shut off service to the residence.

Kutch said it will be up to the homeowner’s insurance as to whether the house can be repaired



Sabers Fired Up for Final Backyard Brawl

Ford City High School cheerleaders try to pump up the crowd at last night’s bonfire along 3rd Avenue before tonight’s game.

By Jonathan Weaver

Tonight, the Ford City Sabers and the Kittanning Wildcats football teams will battle under the lights for the final time.

And last night, die-hard Saber fans prepared for the big game with a bonfire a block from Ford City Junior-Senior High School in downtown Ford City.

For nearly two hours, the 1100 block of 3rd Avenue was swarmed with current students and alumni under a warm fire controlled by local firefighters.

Starting Quarterback Mike Bartosiewicz said tonight’s game will be a “rush,” but he and his teammates – including seven seniors – are ready to end the rivalry on a winning note.

“We prepared all year for this,” Bartosiewicz said. “This is our Super Bowl.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win.”

Bartosiewicz thanked the fans for coming to last night’s bonfire.

It will be the 75th and final time the two teams face off against one another. Ford City currently has a one game advantage.

Musicians and cheerleaders paraded the football players down the Armstrong Trail along 3rd Avenue while also playing various fight songs to motivate the crowd and support the senior students.

In addition to the seven senior football players – including Bartosiewicz – , there are seven band seniors and eight cheerleaders that will be performing at their last football game.

Cheerleader Co-Captains Lauren Pyle and Somer Chvala will lead 30 cheerleaders tonight in the final regular-season game. Chvala said a pep rally will also be held during school today, but the crowd gets motivated more when they see the Sabers run through that banner.

“I think that’s what always pumps us up,” Chvala said.

Chvala has been cheerleading since 3rd grade – 11 years – and has learned a lot about football during that time. She wonders about the future for the community.

“I’ll still miss it though – with all those memories and my purple and gold, I could never imagine being a different color,” Chvala said. “I guess it’s something new, but I like the tradition – who’s our rival going to be?”

As does Borough Mayor Marc Mantini –who was at the bonfire.

“It’s a sad day that Ford City High is closing – may the memory of Ford City High School live forever,” Mayor Mantini said.

“Team Mom” Sherry Hankey didn’t graduate from Ford City, but also wondered about a ripple effect.

“I feel like it keeps the town together and I feel when the school merges, it may lose some of its identity,” Hankey said. “

Affectionately known to players as “Mama Hankey,” Hankey’s family moved to Maryland before she got to graduate a Saber like her father, Donald, did in 1972. She moved back so her son, Senior Center and Long Snapper Tyler Coeburn, could, though, and has cherished each Friday or Saturday game.

“My son’s been playing for nine years and I’ve been very involved since Day 1,” Hankey said. “I love watching the kids play. I love getting them fired up, giving them high-fives when they’re walking on the field.

“I may have had one kid, but in my heart, I have 40 others.”

Steve Russo graduated in 1985 from Ford City. Now a football booster to support players like his son – junior linebacker Dominic – ,

“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to have one final meeting of a backyard rivalry before they become Riverhawks,” Russo said.

Dominic plans to play football during Armstrong Junior-Senior High’s inaugural season.

During his booster announcements, Russo thanked the Zone Bones pep squad for their role at football games and the Ford City Renaissance for providing snacks at the bonfire.

Charles Fulton graduated in 1981 from Ford City and was at the bonfire last night to support daughter, Cora – a freshman clarinetist in the marching band.

Thanks to a report, Cora also knows that the school marching band has existed for 75 years.

In addition to burning a red ‘K’ in the fire, she said musicians burned a part of its past – music to the “Chicken Dance.”

“Our band had a hard time conquering that song – it drove everybody insane trying to learn how to play it,” Cora said.

Rick McKernon is a varsity coach, but also coach of the undefeated junior varsity team. He graduated from Ford City in 1978 and remembered playing junior varsity football with Varsity Head Coach John Bartolovic – who was not able to attend the bonfire.

“I think we’re going to beat them – they won’t get the chance to tie us,” McKernon predicted. “Nobody likes a tie.

“I’m going to miss it. This is a sad ending.”

Kittanning has a bonfire annually at the start of the football season.

Students sang the school’s alma mater arm-in-arm before Ford City and Ford Cliff firefighters extinguished the fire about 8:15PM.

Tonight’s game from Kittanning will be broadcast live on WTYM AM 1380