Six people killed in a head-on car crash on a highway in a national forest include a 12-year-old cheerleader with an infectious smile and a 6-year-old boy described as a scrappy competitor in a variety of sports.
A sport utility vehicle crossed the center line on Saturday afternoon and hit an approaching sedan in Allegheny National Forest, in northwestern Pennsylvania, killing 6-year-old Jarrett Costanzo and 12-year-old Olivia Douglas and injuring 36-year-old driver Kathy Douglas and her 10-year-old son, all in the SUV, state police in McKean County said.
Also killed in the crash were four people in the sedan: 62-year-old driver Gary Beimel; his 55-year-old wife, Elaine Beimel; 54-year-old David Cuneo and 81-year-old Florence Donachy, all of St. Marys.
Kathy Douglas, of Kane, remained hospitalized in serious condition on Monday. A hospital spokeswoman declined to release information about the injured boy’s condition.
St. Marys resident Stephanie Renwick, who lives across the street from the Beimels, said they would be “very greatly missed.”
“They were wonderful people,” she said on Monday. “They were good friends and wonderful neighbors.”
Renwick, whose husband had worked with Gary Beimel, said the Beimels had a large family and were very family-oriented.
“They have two young children who recently married,” she said. “I have three young children, and they were always wonderful to them.”
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims on Sunday at the Kane Area Middle School football field, The Bradford Era reported. Many in the crowd wore football jerseys and cheerleader outfits from the Kane Tornadoes youth football team and the Kane Wolves.
Olivia Douglas, a cheerleader for the Tornadoes, was described as a vibrant girl with many friends who will be remembered for her smile and giggle as well as her hard work and dedication, the newspaper said.
Jarrett Costanzo, a student at Kane Area Elementary School, was remembered as a sports enthusiast and fierce competitor on the wrestling, football and Little League baseball teams. An obituary in the newspaper said he could often be seen on the sidelines because he loved to watch his older brothers play football.
“Jarrett’s smile could light up a room and he brought happiness to all those who knew him and even those who didn’t!” the notice said.
Wrestling coach John Nystrom said Jarrett was willing to compete against people several times his size and sometimes succeeded in taking down bigger opponents. Nystrom told the newspaper that the 6-year-old would take him down during practice and then say, “Get up, Coach!”