North Union, PA Head On Collision, Aug 1998



Five people died in a fiery crash in Fayette County early yesterday when a car driving the wrong way slammed head-on into a car speeding the other direction on the way home from a nightclub.
THOMAS E. RICHARDS, 56, the driver of the first car, and his brother, JAMES F. RICHARDS, 51, died of head injuries.
Police found 14 empty beer cans in their car, which had traveled 1 1/2 miles the wrong way on Route 119 in North Union about 2:30 a.m.
The three people in the other car were burned beyond recognition when their sedan burst into flames on impact.
Police tentatively identified them as CARMEN JONES, 21, and RYHEEM LEWIS, 19, both of Uniontown, and RENEE MAUG'E, 21, of Staten Island, N.Y.
Two other people, KENNETH WHITE and TSCHAKA STAFFORD, were injured when they were thrown from the wreckage.
WHITE, who a relative of JONES said last night was the driver of the car, was flown to UPMC Presbyterian where he was treated for a broken arm and leg. He was in critical condition last night.
STAFFORD was treated for internal injuries at Uniontown Hospital, then transferred to Presbyterian. She was in fair condition last night.
Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, who performed the autopsies on JONES, LEWIS and MAUG'E said they died of a combination of impact injuries and the fire from the crash.
A toxicology report on THOMAS RICHARDS to determine his blood alcohol level won't be available from a state police crime lab until early next week.
Toxicology reports on the other victims could be ready by tomorrow, Fayette County Coroner Phillip E. Reilly said.
Autopsies weren't conducted on THOMAS RICHARDS or JAMES RICHARDS because Reilly determined at the scene that they died of crash injuries.
Elizabeth Ford, Carmen Jones' grandmother, said last night that her grandson and his friends from the Lemon Wood Acres public housing project in Uniontown were heading home from Knuckleheads, a bar about five miles west of town on Route 40.
"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said of Jones, who celebrated his 21st birthday last week.
Jones' other relatives at Lemon Wood Acres refused to discuss the crash.
About 20 people gathered outside Jones' residence about 4 p.m. with others huddled on the sidewalk in quiet discussion, but no one would comment on the accident.
Jones' father angrily refused comment and demanded that a reporter leave the area. A woman at Lewis' house said his relatives had joined the mourners at Lemon Wood Acres.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pennsylvania 1998-08-14