Regional University Student Killed in Rayburn Crash

NIcholas Gavazzi (courtesy of Clarion Golden Eagles athletics)

by Jonathan Weaver

A Clarion University student died yesterday morning after a two-vehicle collision along State Route 28/66 in Rayburn Township.

Nicholas F. Gavazzi, 18 of Charleroi, was driving north in his Honda Civic when the vehicle crossed the center line into the path of a 2003 Peterbilt Tri-axle truck between Anderson Creek Road and Upper Hayes Road shortly before 8AM.

County Coroner Brian Myers pronounced Gavazzi dead at the scene. Via autopsy, it was later determined the cause of death was due to blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen.

Gavazzi was not wearing a seatbelt.

Myers said weather was not an impact in the crash.

The tri-axle truck driver, William Gathers, Jr. of Sligo, was wearing his seatbelt and was uninjured.

Gavazzi, a biotechnology major/nanotechnology minor who was on the Fall 2014 Dean’s List, was also on the university’s wrestling team and was medically red-shirted this season.

“Nick was the kind of kid you wanted your son to become,” said Wrestling Head Coach Keith Ferraro. “He was not only a great wrestler, but a great leader in the classroom. He was a joy to be around and well-liked by his teammates. We are all better off for having spent time with him. The Clarion wrestling family offers its condolences to Nick’s family and friends.”

While at Charleroi High, Gavazzi was a Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League champion in 2013 and 2012 and finished the 2013 season in fifth place within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. He was also class valedictorian.

“We have lost an important member of our community with the death of student, Nicholas Gavazzi,” said Clarion President Karen M. Whitney, Ph.D. “Our hearts go out to the Gavazzi family and friends during this most difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. Grief counselors are available at the university.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Andryka is continuing the investigation.

Rayburn and Kittanning Township fire fighters, as well as Kittanning Ambulance #6 medical responders and the Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department also assisted at the scene. The roadway was closed for more than four hours in both directions, prompting an emergency local detour by motorists.