Man killed on way to wedding found happiness in friendship

October 12, 2013
North Strabane police stand at the accident scene after a pedestrian was struck while crossing Route 19 Friday afternoon. - Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

By all accounts, life had not been easy for Dan Kapis Jr.

But the Canonsburg man found happiness in his friendship with Denise and Thomas Yakopin of Washington.

Kapis was on his way to the couple’s wedding Friday afternoon at Chartiers Hill United Presbyterian Church when he was struck and killed by a car as he attempted to cross all four lanes of Route 19.

“We are broken for him, his family and the young man who hit him,” wrote Thomas Yakopin in a Facebook message to the Observer-Reporter.

Denise talked with Kapis nearly every day, Yakopin said, and Kapis had spent Easter with them this year.

Yakopin said Kapis had very little, and Denise bought him shoes and helped him out.

Kapis, who did not work, attended Mass at St. Patrick Church in Canonsburg every Sunday.

He had just moved from his family’s home in Canonsburg to an apartment in town.

Those who knew Kapis said he walked everywhere, and in the winter he wore a favorite fluorescent orange jumpsuit. Local residents often spotted him walking throughout the Canonsburg area.

So it wasn’t a surprise he walked to the wedding.

“He wasn’t afraid, he walked everywhere,” said Michael DelVecchio of the Polish Club in Canonsburg, where Kapis was a regular. “He was a great gentleman and everybody loved him. I’ve received several phone calls from people who were concerned about him.”

Kapis’s brother, John, said Kapis was thoughtful and caring, and showed appreciation for the kindness people extended to him.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday, dressed neatly, Kapis maneuvered across the southbound lanes of Route 19 and paused briefly on the medial strip. He was yards away from the church when he was struck in the northbound lanes.

Kapis was carrying a wedding card with a gift card to the Olive Garden and a handwritten note inside.

Rev. Donald Austin, pastor of Hill Church, rushed to Kapis’s side and comforted him until medical personnel arrived, and a short time later officiated the Yakopins’ wedding.

The Yakopins found themselves mourning the loss of a friend and celebrating their marriage.

“We are trying to make sense of it all,” wrote Yakopin. “Accidents do happen, and we realize life is fragile. But so close to home, on such a special day, with such a simple but blessed soul seems challenging.”

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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