Two drivers dead

December 17, 2013
The vehicle in which a Coal Center man was killed Tuesday morning in Chartiers Township is transported on a flatbed truck. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Two people died following vehicle crashes, one late Sunday night or early Monday in West Finley Township and the other Tuesday morning in Chartiers Township.

Sandra Wyvonne Howard, 49, of Slemmons Road, Claysville, was found about 5 p.m. Monday over an embankment about 400 feet from her wrecked vehicle on McDonald Road near Beham Ridge Road in West Finley Township.

John F. Duda Sr., 67, of Short Street, Coal Center, was pronounced dead after his sport utility vehicle crashed into a tree off Western Avenue (Route 519) about a half-mile north of Ullom Road about 5:25 a.m. Tuesday.

Trooper Thomas Schuster said Howard likely crashed her vehicle between 10 p.m. Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday. Howard was apparently on her way home after the spending the evening with friends when she drove off the road. The vehicle rolled into a culvert, coming to rest on its side in a creek.

A West Finley Township supervisor drove by about 5 a.m. and spotted the vehicle in the creek. Schuster said state police were not notified until about 7:25 a.m.

“It had snowed in the meantime and covered up any evidence of anyone who might have been around,” Schuster said. The troopers checked the vicinity and checked the house. Her family also checked.

Later in the day, a family member walked the road and found her body about 10 feet down a steep embankment.

“No one would have been able to see her if they were in a vehicle,” Schuster said.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said the cause and manner of Howard’s death is pending toxicology results. West Finley firefighters assisted at the scene.

In the other crash, Duda was driving north and had gone around a bend in the road when his vehicle crossed the center line, traveling about 130 feet before hitting a tree.

“The big question is why,” said township police Chief James Horvath. “A witness saw him drive completely around the bend. We are not ruling anything out.”

Warco said Duda suffered a heart attack prior to the crash and died of multiple injuries.

Assisting were Chartiers and Houston firefighters and Canonsburg Ambulance.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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