Cal U. student killed in Mon-Fayette Expressway crash

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A student at California University of Pennsylvania died Saturday night three hours after he was ejected from a sport utility vehicle driven by a fellow university student when it crashed on the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Union Township.


Garrick A. Lackey, 21, of Littlestown, Adams County, was pronounced dead at 11:35 p.m. at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills, Allegheny County, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office. State police at Troop T said Lackey was not wearing a seat belt.


Lackey was a passenger in a sport utility vehicle driven by Lindsey R. Leonard, 24, of Pittsburgh, that was traveling north on the expressway (Toll Route 43) about a mile-and-a-half south of the Finleyville exit when she lost control of the Nissan Xterra, said state police. The vehicle went over the dirt and grass median, coming to rest in the southbound lanes of the expressway.


Both Lackey and Leonard were taken to Jefferson Regional. Police said Leonard, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered injuries to her arm and wrist.


California University’s campus ministry and Counseling Center are providing support to Lackey’s friends and classmates. Friends also held a candlelight vigil Sunday night.


“California University is deeply saddened by the loss of Garrick Lackey, an active member of our campus community,” said Christine Kindl, university spokeswoman. “Garrick was a dean’s list student, vice president of our Student Government Association and a member of the Student Activities Board and the Ultimate Frisbee Club.


“In short, he was a remarkable young man who made a positive and lasting impact at Cal U.,” she added. “Our hearts go out to his family and his many friends.”


The trooper investigating the crash did not indicate if weather was a factor. The investigation into the crash is continuing.


Assisting at the scene were firefighters from Valley Inn and Finleyville, state police from the Washington and New Stanton stations and ambulance crews from Tri-Community and Jefferson Hills, Assisting with traffic control were turnpike maintenance crews.


Lackey is the 18th person to die on Washington County roads this year.


That crash happened about two hours after temperatures dropped and light snow fell in Washington County.


The weather is blamed for two crashes in North Strabane Township, one about 6:20 p.m. Saturday and the other about 12:40 a.m. Sunday.


In the first crash, police said Richard E. Karabasz, 26, of Pittsburgh, was driving north on Route 19 (Washington Road) near Route 519 when he hit an icy spot. His vehicle crossed the median and off the southbound lanes, going over a guard rail and into a tree. He was not injured.


Bryan Wilcher, 28, of Elizabeth, was injured in the second crash. Police said he was driving north in the 1500 block of Route 519 when his car went off the road, hit an embankment and rolled on to its roof. Police said the road had ice and snow on it. Wilcher was taken to Canonsburg Hospital for treatment of injuries to his face and shoulder. He will be cited with careless driving.


Two people were injured in a one-vehicle crash on Millers Run Road (Route 50) in Mt. Pleasant Township. State police said Robert Dhans, 48, of Washington, and his passenger, Susan Reichert, 45, also of Washington, were injured when his vehicle slid on the icy road, hit a hillside and rolled over on its roof. They were taken to an unknown hospital for treatment of their injuries.


There also was a multiple-vehicle crash on Interstate 79 northbound, south of the Laboratory exit in Amwell Township. Information on that crash was not available from state police Sunday night.


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