Myspace Doesn't End At Death


DENVER (AP) — A 17-year-old fulfilling a dream to learn rodeo died after a horse rolled on top of him during his first bucking bronco ride, his family said.

Stuart Mazanec died Wednesday from organ damage, four days after the accident at a weekend rodeo clinic in Byers, about 30 miles east of Denver.

‘‘It was his first and last ride,’’ said his mother, Pam Mazanec.

Stuart Mazanec was a senior at Douglas County High School south of Denver and active in 4-H, and rodeo had caught his attention, said Jay Brentner, a family friend and veteran rodeo rider.

‘‘I’d tell him stories about all the rodeos I’ve been to, and he thought it was pretty cool,’’ Brentner said.

Mazanec had finished the standard 10-second bareback ride at the rodeo clinic and was trying to get off the bronco when his hand got caught in the rigging around the horse’s neck, said Brentner, who was at the clinic.

Mazanec tried to run alongside the horse, but the animal staggered, tripped and landed atop of him, Brentner said. When the horse got up, the teen was hanging limply at its side, he said.

After he was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Mazanec managed to speak despite a broken jaw, Pam Mazanec said.

‘‘The first thing he told me was, ‘Mom, don’t cry,’” she said.

By Wednesday, his body began to fail, and the family decided to remove life-support that night after consulting with doctors and a priest, she said.

Pat Bohlender-Lowe of the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association said she could recall only one other fatality in youth rodeo in Colorado, a bull-riding accident about 20 years ago.

‘‘People sometimes forget what a rough sport it is,’’ said Brentner. ‘‘But for Stuart, the one thing he always wanted to try ended up being the thing that killed him.’’


KINNELON -- Two teenage cousins were killed as they strolled along a leafy New Jersey lane at twilight after a driver who had allegedly sucked down half a liter of vodka and took powerful pills ran them down, authorities said yesterday.

Athear Jafar, 16, and her cousin Mayada Jafar, 15, were walking on the shoulder of the road to a movie theater in Kinnelon at about 8 p.m. Thursday when a 2005 Kia driven by Eugene Baum mowed them down, officials said.

"They were just girls," exclaimed Mayada's sister, Ammani, 21, as she visited the scene of the tragic wreck yesterday and saw a makeshift memorial erected for the girls.

"They were walking to the movies," she said, before break- ing down in tears and screaming "Oh, God!"

Authorities said Baum, 44, an unmarried electronics company worker, had been on the road for about 15 minutes, driving from his home in Dover to his mom's house in Kinnelon.

The two girls had just left Mayada's house and were walking on the busy road's wide shoulder toward a Clearview Cinemas theater about a mile away when Baum headed toward them.

Morris County Prosecutor Michael Rubbinaccio said Baum was driving on the shoulder - and when he hit the girls, he sent them flying over a guardrail. They suffered massive trauma and were declared dead at the scene.

The Kinnelon police headquarters stands about 100 yards from the crash site, and cops quickly got to the scene. They found Baum "unstable" and said his "speech was slurred." An officer smelled an "odor of an alcoholic beverage."

In addition to the vodka, Baum allegedly consumed the antidepressant Librium, which is not to be taken before operating a vehicle, Rubbinaccio said.

"There is outrage," said the girl's uncle, Issa Abba. "A 44-year-old went out and got drunk and did what he did. He took the life of two little girls who had not even begun their lives."

Baum was given a ticket and freed after the crash. He turned himself in to court yesterday at about 4:30 p.m.

He was charged with reckless driving, DWI and two felony counts of death by auto. The charges could get him up to 10 years in prison, but authorities said yesterday that the charges may be raised to first-degree aggressive manslaughter.

He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

His attorney said he doubted he drank as much as police said - and also denied the drug allegations.

"He's a very decent guy," he said.

Mayada's best friend, Maria Nylen, said the tragic teen called her on the phone shortly before the crash. She didn't take the call and now regrets it.

"I feel terrible, I could have talked to her before she died," she said. "She was outgoing, friendly."

"I think it's terrible that some guy killed my best friend just because he was drunk and drove."

While her cousin Athear goes to Jefferson HS in her home town of Jefferson Township. Mayada goes to Kinnelon HS.

At the school a sign offered condolences to her family.

"There's a sense of bewilderment," said principal Sharon Torriello. "It's hard on both the kids and adults. We're trying to wrap our arms around each other."


PISCATAWAY — The mood was somber at Piscataway High School yesterday as students and staff learned that 16-year-old Whitney Salas had been killed in an automobile accident on Saturday.

"It's difficult to lose someone like this," said Justin Nayman, an 18-year-old senior at the high school. "We take so much for granted. It takes something like this to make people thank God for what they have."

A crisis team was activated in the school, and counselors were available for students and staff. Nayman said students were very upset, and the cafeteria was unusually silent during lunch, except for an impromptu prayer session that was organized by Salas' friends. He said students gathered around a poster board that they had adorned with photographs, poems, flowers and candles in memory of their friend.

"She seemed to be loved by a lot of people," he said.

Teresa Rafferty, the coordinator for community outreach for the school district, said an "overwhelming number" of students sought help from the 13 counselors at the school.

Rafferty said Whitney, a junior, was remembered yesterday as well-liked, popular and very confident.

"She was a very charismatic young lady," Rafferty said.

Police said Whitney was a passenger in a car driven by 18-year-old Antonio Williams. Williams, a senior at Piscataway High School, was driving a 2001 Chevy Cavalier on Old New Brunswick Road at about 11:40 a.m. when, for an unknown reason, he lost control on a curved section of the roadway. He swerved onto a curb in the opposite lane, and the Cavalier was hit broadside in the passenger door by a Toyota Sequoia, driven by 41-year-old Bhargav Desai of Piscataway.

The Sequoia was then sideswiped by a third vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by 55-year-old Carmen Salavarrietta of Piscataway, said Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Nicholas Sewitch.

Sewitch said the roadway was wet at the time of the accident, but it was not raining. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the crash but do not believe alcohol was a factor. Sewitch said he did not know if any of the occupants were wearing seat belts, but said that in a broadside hit such as this, a seat belt wouldn't have saved Salas, who died at the scene. Williams was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was in fair condition, said a hospital spokeswoman yesterday.

Desai and his 14-year-old son were taken to JFK Medical Center in Edison. Desai was treated and released. Sewitch said Desai's son was hurt, but the injuries were not life-threatening. Salavarrietta was taken to Muhlenberg Regional Hospital in Plainfield, where she was treated and released.


TARPON SPRINGS - One of the three teenagers who were ejected from a car that spun out of control Tuesday night has died, authorities said.

Steven Corso, 16, of New Port Richey, was pronounced dead Wednesday at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg at 12:25 p.m., said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Larry Coggins.

Corso was one of three teenagers sitting in the back of a Dodge Neon when its driver lost control of the vehicle and it struck a utility pole, a fence, a parked car and another utility pole, according to a statement by the highway patrol.

The other two teenagers who were thrown from the car during the multiple collisions have been identified as Cynthia Rivera, 17, of New Port Richey, and Alex Pitre, 17, of Tarpon Springs. Both remained in serious condition at Bayfront, Coggins said.

The driver, Richard Zwack, 19, of Port Richey, lost control of the car at the intersection of Pasaje Avenue and Dixie Highway shortly before 11 p.m., the patrol said in the prepared statement. Zwack suffered minor injuries and was released from Bayfront, Coggins said.

A passenger in the front seat, Jessica Nichols, 17, of Port Richey, was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she was expected to be released, Coggins said.

Zwack and Nichols were wearing seat belts; the three ejected were not, the prepared statement says.

The call was originally incorrectly dispatched as four pedestrians struck.

Charges are pending.


The motorcyclist who died from injuries suffered in a crash on Route 6 Tuesday had a strong desire to "do the right thing" and wanted to be a police officer or firefighter, his uncle remembered Thursday.

The father of Dane J. Freiler, 24, of 59 W. Washington St., No. 8, on Thursday confirmed his son’s death the previous night, according to traffic Lt. Kevin Morrell.

Freiler’s uncle, John Freiler, a retired New York City police detective, said his nephew served in the Army in the 439th Quartermaster Battalion and was stationed in Iraq from April 2003 through August 2004 working to deliver fuel to military vehicles "where he was constantly subject to enemy fire."

Freiler said his nephew returned to Iraq in February 2005 and stayed through July of that year as a civilian performing the same job in an effort to save money for his July 7, 2007 wedding to fiancee Kelly Miceli.

"He was really interested in serving his country and doing the right thing," said John Freiler. "He felt compelled about that."

John Freiler forwarded an e-mail to The Bristol Press that Dane sent him from Iraq in July 2005 in which his nephew wrote, "When [I] get home [I] do plan on trying to find a job as a police officer, fireman, ... [I] am sure you can tell by now [I’m] very motivated when it comes to serving my country and its people. ..."

According to the accident report, Dane Freiler was riding his Yamaha 600 motorcycle west on Farmington Avenue and collided with the front right side of the Buick Century driven by Eleanor Kuchinskas, 80, of 167 Vance Drive when she attempted to turn left onto Jerome Avenue.

An investigation into the accident by the Serious Traffic Accident Recon-struction Team (START) is expected to take several weeks, said Morrell. He said both vehicles are being inspected to determine if mechanical failure may have contributed to the accident.

Freiler was airlifted to Hartford Hospital where, according to staff, he remained on life support in the Intensive Care Unit until he died Wednesday evening.

John Freiler said his nephew’s organs were donated, so in death he may help others.

No charges have been filed, according to Morrell, who said, "It will take several weeks to complete the investigation.


PHILADELPHIA - A single candle flickered in an alley behind a posh Northern Liberties apartment building last night, marking the spot where Patrick Spencer was gunned down over the weekend.

Spencer, 19, was shot in the head and arm about 9:30 p.m. Sunday as he rode a black mountain bike behind the Cigar Factory Condominiums, according to police.

The aspiring chef collapsed in a pool of blood on tiny Orianna Street, several feet away from the brick property on North 4th Street near Girard Avenue that's home to half-million-dollar lofts.

Though responding officers feverishly searched the area for suspects, police said the teen's killer escaped. Investigators said they have no motive for the shooting and noted that the victim had a clean record.

"He was a really good kid," said Tyrone Spencer, Patrick's father, as he blinked back tears yesterday outside the family's home on Hancock Street near Girard Avenue, about three blocks east of the shooting location. "He didn't bother anybody. He had his heart set on becoming a chef."

Spencer said the teen spent last year at the Community College of Philadelphia, studying culinary arts. He opted to take some time off and recently spent his days working at a country club near Norristown, Spencer said. He hoped to return to college soon.

"Patrick didn't hang out a lot. He'd usually sit in his room, playing PlayStation till the middle of the night," said Spencer, 43. "Then he'd go to work the next day."

When he wasn't working, said Patrick's sister, Precious, the teen would try his culinary creations out on his family. After several years of "charred pancakes and steaks," he finally found his groove making breakfast foods.

"His best was breakfast," said Precious, 21. "He did scrambled eggs real good. Our favorite was his cinnamon pancakes."

Patrick's sister said he picked up the cooking bug from his mother, Patricia. He spent most of Sunday shopping with his mother before announcing to his family about 8 p.m. that he was going out.

"Sometimes he would call us when he was out and let us know what he was doing," Spencer said. "But he didn't get that chance Sunday night."

Spencer said that by the time family members learned of the shooting and reached Hahnemann University Hospital, the teen was already brain dead.

"His mother always told him to avoid dark areas and shortcuts," Spencer said, shaking his head.

Spencer wondered why Patrick was riding a mountain bike, noting that the teen didn't own one. "We're still trying to figure out where that came from," Spencer said.

While family members and neighbors wept on Hancock Street last night, Cigar Factory tenants paused to notice a small stuffed-animal memorial on Orianna Street.

"This truly shocked me," said Veronica, a Cigar Factory resident new to Northern Liberties, who declined to give her last name. "I know there's hot spots and cold spots here, but it could have happened to any of us."


STRATHAM - Police have turned the investigation into the death of an 18-year-old Stratham man over to the county attorney’s office because the young man was related to Chief Michael Daley’s family.

Ryan Scamman-Rawson, 18, died unexpectedly at his home Saturday morning.

Ryan is a distant relation of N.H. House Speaker W. Douglas Scamman and his wife, state Rep. Stella Scamman, both of Stratham.

Ryan’s mother, Kelly Scamman, told the Herald the cause of death was a drug overdose. She said the family is stunned because the action is totally out of character for her son.

"His friends are all shocked that it was him," said Scamman. "He was the one that always told kids not to do them (drugs)."

Scamman said her son took the drugs after being stopped by police for a possible motor vehicle violation.

"He took them because he didn’t want to get busted," said Scamman. "He was scared."

Scamman said she had no idea why her son had the drugs in the first place, that she never had a thought about him doing drugs.

Chief Daley’s wife, Shirley, is the Stratham town clerk, and a member of the Scamman family. The chief could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Selectman David Short - who knew Ryan, and said he was a good kid - said he would suspect that 80-90 percent of the high school has had some level of involvement with drugs.

"It’s everywhere and just a question of how far they go exploring," said Short. "Still you can’t base how far on the end result here. It seems to me it was a kind of panic thing."

Stratham Police Sgt. Richard Gendron said the authorities are completing work they had started on the investigation and will send everything to the county attorney.

"Because of the family relationship with the chief, we are removing ourselves from this," said Gendron on Tuesday. "I have been in contact with the county attorney this morning."

Gendron would not officially confirm the death as a drug overdose. He said they can’t say for sure until toxicology reports come back.

"It’s a tragic situation," said Gendron. "A kid that age - he had his whole life ahead of him."

Stella Scamman said she and the House speaker were "distant" relatives of Ryan and that the couple plans to attend his funeral.


TAMPA, Fla. - A 20-year-old soldier was found dead in his barracks the day after an apparent suicide note was posted on his Web page.

The Army has not released the cause of Pvt. Dylan Meyer’s death on Tuesday at Fort Gordon, Ga.

But the last posting on the Tampa man’s Web page seemed to indicate that he had planned to end his life. said there is no way to determine whether Meyer wrote the message himself.

“Jesus, I don’t know if any of you have heard what has happened to me yet, but I just want to remind you not to be sad,” said the note, posted Monday. “Laugh, that’s what lifes about ... When it is all said and done, ... it is the ones you love who you will remember.”

Meyer’s father referred questions Thursday to Army public affairs. Joe Walker, a spokesman for Meyer’s unit, the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, said the investigation is still going on. — a social networking hub with more 72 million members — allows users to post searchable profiles that can include photos of themselves and such details as what music they like.

Dustin Triplett, a friend of Meyer’s from high school, told the St. Petersburg Times that many of Meyer’s friends were surprised by his decision to join the Army early last year. Triplett said Meyer told him how much he hated the military and that he was never comfortable.

On his MySpace page, a passage addressed to other soldiers read: “Have fun you simple minded creatures. The army needs drones like you, you are what they call life long enlisted.”


BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio -- A Central Ohio couple is dealing with the loss of their son under mysterious circumstances. Now all they want is an explanation.

James McCoy III turned 18 years old Saturday. He died the same day, NBC 4's Tacoma Newsome reported.

When McCoy called his mother from a church retreat in Bellefontaine, she told him that their family would celebrate his birthday on Monday.

"But he don't have a tomorrow now, and nobody will tell me why," said Tonya Amoako-Okyere, McCoy's mother.

While on the retreat, he was found in the woods hanging from a tree. His parents still don't know how it happened, and no one has given them any answers.

"Something's not right," Amoako-Okyere said.

Suicide was suggested, but his parents said he had so much to live for.

James McCoy, a Westerville South High School student, was a musician at The Church of The Messiah. He earned a 3.8 GPA and was already accepted to college.

"There's no way that my son ... would have hung himself," said James McCoy Jr., his father.

Logan County investigators said they spoke to others at the camp, and that revealed a different young man.

"It revealed that there was some issues with this young man that day. Until we get more of a determination, we'll stretch that further if need be," a Logan County police officer said.

But, an Internet blog maintained by McCoy revealed his passion for God, music and the church.

Church officials said they have no answers. One church official said the church has heard different information from different sources.


VANCOUVER, Wash. - A teenage worker at a Vancouver McDonald's died after she was stabbed in the restaurant by a man Thursday night.

A short time after the stabbing, police say they apprehended a suspect and may have found the murder weapon.

Police were called to the fast food restaurant on the 2800 block on Northeast Andresen just after 8 p.m.

The stabbing victim, identified as Anna E. Svidersky, 17, was transported to Emanuel Hospital where she later died.

An autopsy is scheduled for this morning by the Clark County Medical Examiner's Office.

Police said Friday that the suspect apparently entered the restaurant around 8 p.m. while the victim was in the eating area.

Police said they were unsure if the victim was working at the time or an a break.

They did not disclose any details about the attack.

Police located the suspect, described as a white male, walking along Andresen Street a short distance from the McDonald's.

He was taken into custody without incident.

The suspect has been identified as David Barton Sullivan, 28. He is scheduled to be arraigned today at the Clark County Courthouse Jail on a first degree Murder.

Police say they also recovered the weapon used in the crime, described as a kitchen knife.

During a news conference Friday morning, Sullivan was described as a Level Two Registered Sex Offender with a criminal history including an assault charge in 2001.

Police say he also spent time in a Washington state facility for mental illness, but he was not currently on probation or parole.

The restaurant was closed after the incident and a police chaplain counseled employees who had remained on the scene.

An employee who says she worked the night shift at the restaurant says there was usually no trouble with customers after dark.

Vancouver Police say they do not believe the suspect and the victim knew each other or were associated in any way.


CLEARLAKE- Local young people reacted with sadness this week to the death of 18-year-old Andy Johnson of Clearlake, who was killed with three other young people in an automobile crash near Eureka last Friday.

Johnson was among a close-knit group of young people who take part in bicycle motocross.

"All the boys were devastated," said BMX parent Denise Claiche via e-mail. "We found out about two hours after the accident on Friday night. My son could not stop sobbing. I felt so useless because I couldn't make it better."

Claiche added, "All the local boys met in his honor at the skate park Saturday to support each other."

Michele Bush, another parent of a local BMXer, added that Johnson was also involved in the local skateboarding community. "He kind of bridged the two groups."

The collision took place on U.S. Highway 101. The Eureka Times-Standard reported that the car that the young people were riding in collided with a sport utility vehicle driven by 39-year-old Bobby Crum of Redding. Crum sustained moderate injuries in the collision.

The four teens were headed southbound, according to the Crescent City-area CHP, when for reasons unknown they lost control of their vehicle, hit a guardrail and then rolled into the northbound lanes. The driver of the SUV was unable to avoid the car and hit it.

Johnson and the other young people Sierra Weatherbee and Brianna Hyatt McAllister, both age 17 and from Rio Dell, and 17-year-old John Scott of Eureka were pronounced dead at the scene.


COLUMBUS, Ohio - The prosecution said it didn't matter if the girlfriend of a 15-year-old grabbed the steering wheel of the car he was driving just before the crash that killed her.

Skid marks on the road showed Timothy Shanks, who was driving without a license, passed another car at such an angle that it would have gone off the road anyway, a police detective and accident reconstructionist testified.

Shanks, whose only previous driving experience was on a lawn mower and in his mother's car in the driveway, laid his head on the defense table and sobbed Thursday after Franklin County Magistrate Douglas Shoemaker convicted him of a juvenile count of aggravated vehicular homicide. He faces six months to six years in a juvenile detention center when sentenced next month.

Based on police estimates, Shanks was traveling about 60 mph on Oct. 28 when the car veered off the side of the road and struck a tree and the side of a concrete bridge. Ashley Milburn, 17, was thrown from the car and died a few hours later at a hospital.

Shanks testified that he passed the other car safely and didn't lose control until Milburn jerked the wheel from the passenger seat.

"If she grabbed the wheel, it doesn't make any difference," Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dennis Hogan said. "The car was out of control. At that time, his fate was sealed."

Milburn's friend was driving the car that Shanks passed. The two girls had been racing earlier in the evening, according to testimony, but Shanks said in court that he was not racing.


Wade Lurk probably spent the last moments of his life gasping for air and trying to get out of a nightmarish situation, said St. Francois County Coroner James Coplin, who conducted a three-hour autopsy on the Ste. Genevieve teen's body Tuesday morning.

Lurk, whose body was found Monday after a 16-day search, was trapped in a slowly sinking automobile with power windows that didn't work and doors that would be nearly impossible to open, Coplin said.

Coplin's preliminary findings seem to confirm police suspicions that a confused Lurk accidentally drove into Goose Creek Lake near French Village, Mo.

"There wasn't any sign of foul play or trauma whatsoever," Coplin said in a telephone interview. "Right now, we are considering this an accidental drowning."

Coplin said he will not issue a formal cause of death until he examines the results of toxicology tests, which he said should be available in four weeks.

Lurk, who was a senior at Valle High School in Ste. Genevieve, was last seen about 4 a.m. on April 1, sleeping in his car outside a lake house where he and friends had been partying and playing cards. Hundreds of volunteers had searched for Lurk, but his car was not spotted in the lake until shortly before noon on Monday, when it was noticed by fishermen.

Police on Monday confirmed that the body found in the vehicle was Lurk. They said they believed that Lurk drove into the lake by accident, and that Lurk was most likely disoriented and intoxicated. After Tuesday's autopsy, Coplin offered new details that shed light on what likely happened when Lurk's 1990 Nissan Stanza was driven into the water.

The coroner said that for several minutes, the four-door sedan probably bobbed in the water with the engine - the heaviest part of the vehicle -under the water line. He said the water quickly would have shorted out the car's power windows, which were rolled up. And because of the heavy pressure on the doors from the water outside, they too would have been useless, Coplin said.

"I'm sure it would have been a very panicky situation," Coplin said. "His only way to escape would have been to kick out the glass, which would have been very difficult in complete darkness, or to wait for the car to entirely submerge and then (try to) open the doors."

Coplin said Lurk's body was found in the back seat of the car, which the coroner said made sense because that is where the last air pocket would have remained. He said the position of Lurk's body in the vehicle was not at all suspicious.

Coplin also said that the autopsy revealed no broken bones or other signs of struggle that would indicate foul play.

Authorities have said damage to a wall of a building along the lakeshore was caused by Lurk's car sideswiping the building as the car entered the lake. Part of a broken side mirror and broken bulbs from a strand of Christmas lights along the shore also indicated that a car might have struck items along the shore, authorities said.


OAKLAND — A few years ago, Ronald Hall Jr. was living in a run-down East Oakland apartment without lights or power, and without money or hope for the future.

His mother was on the streets — again — living on heroin and welfare checks. She would return home from time to time to pull the state checks from the mailbox, but she was strung out and unable to care for her teenage son, a star basketball player, say those who knew him.

Still, he stayed with her, fearful that she would be injured or killed — by her own hand or by angry drug dealers. He stayed away from drugs himself. And he tried to avoid violence.

But it found him early Monday, when he was shot dead around the corner from a Jack London Square nightclub.

His death — the 42nd homicide in Oakland this year — is somewhat puzzling. By all accounts so far, it appears Hall, an 18-year-old senior at St. Elizabeth High School, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He was a good kid. He had a tough break and a hard life, but he was a fighter. He was going to go to college. He wanted to play basketball and then come back to Oakland and be a firefighter. It's very tragic," said his 50-year-old guardian, who declined to give her name for fear of retaliation from his killer, who is still at large.

Hall's mother has been a heroin addict for a decade, and the teen had attended three high schools in Oakland and Richmond, struggling to keep his grades up, said his father, Ronald Hall Sr.

The father lives in American Canyon near Vallejo, but the boy insisted on staying with his mother even when she was missing and high on drugs, a family friend said.

Little was constant in the boy's life, except basketball.

He was twice named by Nike as one of the top 100 basketball players in Northern California, said those who knew him. He wanted to play pro ball. He wanted to get an education.

Hall Jr. died at 4:37 a.m. Monday. He was shot in the head, likely a victim of errant gunfire after a brawl outside Mingles Nightclub, police said.


UNION CITY — Family and friends will gather today for the funeral of a
15-year-old boy who died of injuries suffered in a two-car crash last week.

Fardin Qayyumi died about 2 p.m. Saturday at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, police Sgt. Ray Gedney said. He died of multiple blunt injuries, according to the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau.

A junior at James Logan High School, Qayyumi had been on life support since the April 10 crash at Decoto Road and Mission Boulevard.

He was one of five occupants of a 1990 Toyota Corolla that crashed into a 1987 Chrysler minivan. The driver of the Corolla apparently had attempted a last-second lane change when he rear-ended the minivan, police said.

The investigation is ongoing, and no citations have been issued.

Qayyumi was on his way to a cemetery to visit the grave site of a friend's father when the accident occurred, said Ramin Akramzada, who was in the car and suffered back injuries.

Those close to Qayyumi described him as a good student who embraced his Afghan heritage.

"He was very kind. He never did anything bad, like smoking or drinking. He was always happy," said Ajmal Faizi, 17, who befriended Qayyumi at Mt. Eden High School in Hayward before the latter transferred to Logan this school year.

Faizi said the last time he saw his best friend was at an Afghan New Year's celebration in Livermore earlier this month, when he videotaped Qayyumi dancing.

Qayyumi's love for Afghan music was matched by his love


MONTICELLO -- A New Glarus teen was killed Sunday when his vehicle overturned and he was ejected, according to Green County Sheriff Randy Roderick.

Jake A. Daeda, 16, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Green County Coroner's office, Roderick said. The accident took place on a closed portion of Wisconsin 69 on the north edge of Monticello in Mount Pleasant township, near the Francois Oil Company.

Deputies, along with the Monticello Fire Department, New Glarus Emergency Medical Services and a New Glarus police officer responded to the scene around 12:15 a.m. A Monticello police officer came upon the accident and reported the accident to the Green County Sheriff's Department.

Preliminary investigation showed Daeda was driving a pickup truck on a closed portion of the road under construction when he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle left the road, partially overturned and Daeda was ejected from the vehicle. He was not wearing a seat belt. Roderick said speed is a contributing factor in the accident.

Daeda was a junior at New Glarus High School, where his death affected students and faculty as they learned the news Monday morning. District Administrator Barb Thompson said Principal Dwayne Schober was meeting with each grade level to explain what happened. Counselors Sonya Tidd and Juany Kielley-Dahlen met with students and staff during the morning and will continue to throughout the week.

School Nurse Christy Meier, School Psychologist Tracy Simonson as well as four ministers from the community planned visits to the elementary and middle/high school buildings to help students and faculty. Daeda had many cousins and other relatives at each building and many of the staff members taught Daeda.

Daeda played football and was a member of the boys golf team. Thompson's husband coached Daeda as a member of the football team's defensive unit.

"Jake was one of his favorite players," Thompson said. "Jake's spirit was epitomized by the way he played defense.

"He was a tough little guy who really gave it his all."


Candace Michelle Mejia was shot and killed April 4 in an apartment on Hammond's west side. Hammond resident Derek Alexander Paolucci, 22 -- Mejia's boyfriend -- was charged with murder and reckless homicide in connection with the shooting death.

Paolucci initially told police his father shot Mejia, but Hammond Police Department evidence technicians found no traces of gunpowder on the father's hands. They did find evidence on Paolucci, who later told police he pointed the gun at her at his apartment in the 5900 block of Hyslop Place and fired, forgetting the weapon was loaded, police said.

He maintains the shooting was an accident.

"I never met this boy," Buse said. "The first time I saw him was at his arraignment."

Mejia was attending River Forest High School in Lake Station, but dropped out, her aunt said. She was attending Portage Adult Education classes in hopes of earning her general equivalency diploma but wanted more. The teen recently sought information about signing up for the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Corps, which allows young people to work while earning a GED in the hopes of getting a better-paying job when they complete their courses and job training.

"When we were cleaning the house, we found the folder with the information," Buse said. "She couldn't make it in high school, but she wanted to be somebody, and now she's just a statistic."

Buse said she would like for some good to come from her niece's death and said she hopes young girls heed her advice.

"I just wish girls would learn that any guy you think you love may not really be there for you," Buse said. "I have an 11-year-old daughter and I'm telling her she doesn't need a man to succeed. A person wants love, attention, friendship and someone to talk to at night, but just be leery of who you pick."


Phylicia Jessica Bernard, a senior at Southridge High, was running late Wednesday morning as she neared school in her Chrysler sedan -- the one her father gave her as a gift.

Nearby at 230th Street and 107th Avenue, police say, an alert neighbor spotted three men trying to break into a home.

Minutes later, Bernard and the alleged burglars crossed paths, with fatal consequences.

Police say the alleged burglars, riding in a 1998 Gold Lincoln Navigator, blew through a stop sign and plowed into Bernard's Chrysler. The crash happened next to Southridge High at Southwest 114th Avenue and 192nd Street.

Bernard was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead -- less than three months shy of her 18th birthday.

One suspected burglar was detained; two others escaped on foot and remain at large.

Bernard's car was crushed. The Navigator collapsed the chain-link fence of a nearby home, which belonged to a Southridge English teacher.

The one suspect detained has not been charged with a crime, Miami-Dade police said. Detectives are looking for the two other men. One is described as 5-foot-4, about 180 pounds, who wore a blue T-shirt with red shorts. The other is about 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and wore a black shirt and jeans.

At Southridge, grief counselors were made available. Some teachers switched on the news inside class; other classes prayed in silence.

Classmates and teachers described Bernard as a cheerful, friendly and well-liked teen.

Bernard took classes in the morning. In the afternoon, she worked at a Target store as part of a program that allows students to split their day between work and school.

She recently had been promoted to cashier at the fast-food counter. She was scheduled to work 12.5 hours this weekend.

Her supervisor, Gladys Burgos, 28, described Bernard: ``She was so friendly. She was really, really, extremely nice.''

When she wasn't working, Bernard spent time with her boyfriend and ran track and cross-country. She was a member of an anti-drug awareness club called DFY-IT.


NORTH ANDOVER — A 19-year-old North Andover High graduate and Merrimack College sophomore was killed early yesterday morning in a car crash on Winter Street in North Andover.

Laura Piasecki, of 77 Bridges Lane, was pronounced dead at the scene, said North Andover Police spokesman Lt. Paul J. Gallagher.

Police are investigating the cause of what Gallagher said was a one-car crash that happened at 3:13 a.m. at the 400 block of Winter Street, near Piasecki's parents' house. She was alone in the vehicle, but Gallagher said he had no more information about the crash.

"We're still in the early stages of the investigation," said North Andover police Chief Richard Stanley. "We're not going to speculate about where she was, what she was doing or how fast she was traveling."

Yesterday afternoon, about 20 young people gathered at the sharp curve in the wooded, winding road where Piasecki's car apparently crashed into two trees. They placed flowers and a small American flag around one of the trees, where the bark was ripped away and the wood was etched with black marks.

A girl cried as she talked on a cell phone. Some spoke in hushed voices; some sat in silence along a stone wall.

Piasecki's parents, Janice and Philip, said they did not want to talk to a reporter.

Friends described Piasecki as a lively, funny girl who made close friends everywhere she went.

She would adopt words like "unreal" or "typical" and soon everyone was saying them, said Carly Dignam, 20, who said she had known Piasecki since she was 6.

Piasecki seemed to know everyone she met in town and on her college campus, her friends said.

In North Andover, she was a favorite of her friends' younger siblings and the children she taught in swimming lessons and gymnastics classes.

"She would walk into a room and make it light up," Dignam said.

In her senior year of high school, Piasecki wrote all the lyrics to a song from "Grease" on her hands and note cards so she wouldn't forget them when she had to sing at a pep rally.

"Every funny thing that happened in my life, at least in high school, she was with me," said Skylar Griggs, 20, another childhood friend.

Piasecki was an honor roll student at North Andover High, where she graduated in 2004. She volunteered at the Gymnastics Factory in North Andover and spent summers working at the Brooks School summer camp, where she had been a camper as a child.

"You never saw her pouting or down," Brooks School Summer Programs Director Bobbie Crump-Burbank said. "She would work long hours. She was always willing to help."

At Merrimack College, where she lived on campus, Piasecki was considering biology as a major. But she ultimately wanted to become a teacher, a profession for which her friends said she would have had a gift.

Crump-Burbank said Piasecki was the second of the 115-member Brooks summer camp staff to die this year.


Two men were killed and a teenage girl was seriously injured early Friday when the car they were in became airborne, spun out of control and struck a tree along a dark road near Burlington in western Kane County, authorities said.

Trenton Shearer, 21, of Sycamore, the driver, and James Walker, 20, of Carpentersville were killed. Rachel Olson, 17, of Sycamore was in serious condition in Provena St. Joseph Hospital, Elgin.

Shearer and Walker were pronounced dead at the scene on Engel Road in Burlington Township, Coroner Charles West said.

The results of toxicology tests are not expected to be available for a few weeks. West said speed appeared to have been a factor.

A sibling of Olson's identified Walker as the teen's boyfriend and Shearer as "her best friend." Olson is a senior at Sycamore High School.

Shearer, who worked the late shift at a boxmaking company in DeKalb, was engaged to Walker's sister Marlene, said his sister, Dawn Keding of West Chicago.

Speaking on behalf of her parents, longtime Sycamore residents Allen and Theresa Shearer, Keding described her brother, the third of five Shearer children, as "a great boy."

"He had a lot of passion for life. He loved his family and friends and always stood up for the little guy," Keding said.

She said her brother had worked late, and she believed he and the others "were going to see some friends" when the crash occurred just before 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Based on preliminary findings, sheriff's investigators reported that the 1994 Saturn was southbound on Engel Road at the Canadian National Railroad tracks near Plank Road when it went airborne while going over a hill on the north side of the tracks.

Shearer apparently lost control and drove off the east side of Engel Road for several yards before hitting a tree, investigators said.

West said both men were ejected and the car ricocheted off the tree and back onto two-lane Engel Road. He said Shearer's car spun 180 degrees after leaving the road and was headed backward when it hit the tree. Olson was not ejected, he said.

Based on preliminary autopsy results, West said, Shearer died of neck injuries. Blunt neck and pelvic trauma caused Walker's death, West said.


The mother of a Baker University student killed by a train this week in Edgerton said she believed the death was the result of an accident, not suicide.

Joy Morgan, mother of 23-year-old Jeffrey Morgan of Emporia, said she had been told by investigators that her son could have wrecked his car near the train tracks, become disoriented and stepped onto the tracks while a train was passing.

But Lt. John Resman of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said “there’s no evidence” of Morgan having wrecked his vehicle near the tracks beforehand.

“His car is driveable. It’s the same condition he drove up in,” Resman said. “We towed it away because that’s our standard practice.”

Still, Resman acknowledged that investigators may never know exactly what caused Morgan to be struck by the train. He said officers have found no evidence that there was foul play — leaving an accident and a suicide as the two main possibilities.

“He could have been walking along the tracks and just stumbled into the oncoming train,” he said. “We will never know.”

The sheriff’s office responded to the death at 2:18 a.m. on the railroad tracks at 199th Street south of U.S. Highway 56. Toxicology results are pending and could take a month, Resman said.

Morgan, who survived Hodgkin’s disease while in high school, was involved in a variety of activities at Baker, ranging from radio broadcasting to the football team.

According to Morgan’s homepage on the Internet site, he also owned a bar in Emporia and was an aspiring country singer.

His mother said he was planning to attend medical school in Tennessee after graduation.

“(I) have the doctor thing to fall on if the muzik does not work out,” he wrote on his Web site. “I am currently applying to Meharry Medical College Medical program in Nashville so I can move to Nashville and be closer to the music.”

The university plans a service for Morgan at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Osborne Chapel on campus.

“It is difficult to imagine a more devastating loss,” Baker President Daniel Lambert said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathy to the Morgan family and will hold them in our prayers during the days just ahead.”


Oliver Johnson's family is searching for answers, and have hired an attorney to help them.

Family members took the 34-year-old man off life support last week. He was bloated and unrecognizable; the effects of the flesh-eating bacteria that consumed him after he fell into the contaminated Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

"And I have to say I knew when I first saw him that was the absolute end," said Friederike Boszko, Johnson's mother.

"Like anyone would do, I said you take his leg, you take whatever you can to save his life," said Leonard Johnson, brother.

But his family didn't know what kind of life Johnson would have, if he survived. So they took him off life support last Thursday night.

"I want to find the time sequence of events, which I still don't know," said Boszko.

They've hired attorney Jim Leavitt, who among other things is having a pathologist review the city medical examiner's autopsy results.

The family is also working with police, who say Johnson got into a fight with a man the night he ended up in the harbor.

"If there was an altercation, that's not what killed my brother, what killed my brother are bacteria that were found right there in that harbor," said Johnson.

Family members say they will remember Johnson as an avid surfer, who loved living in Hawaii.

They're thankful they were able to be at his bedside, despite the nature of his death.

"Oh God, I thank God I could see him, I had some closure too, I got to say goodbye," said Johnson.


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