HARRISBURG (AP) – The husband of an Ohio middle school teacher was among those expected to testify Tuesday at a court hearing about a rock-dropping incident on a stretch of rural interstate in Pennsylvania last month that left the woman with severe head injuries.
The preliminary hearing at the county courthouse in Lewisburg involves the criminal case against four teenagers who are accused of a July 10 crime spree that included dropping a rock onto the car in which 52-year-old Sharon Budd was riding.
Budd’s husband, Randy, said Monday there are indications she may be recovering some sight in her left eye, as she has been blinking and opening it for short periods, and that her ability to communicate also has been improving.
She was moved to a rehabilitation hospital two weeks ago.
“She’s not really putting together sentences, but if you ask her, ‘are you comfortable,’ ‘are you cold, warm,’ she’ll answer questions, usually with a head nod,” he said.
Surgeons plan procedures in the coming weeks to remove her right eye and install a temporary plate to protect her brain, he said.
Investigators last week revised the criminal charges against Dylan M. Lahr, 17; Brett M. Lahr, 18; Tyler Gregory Porter, 18; and Keefer Lance McGee, 17. They are accused of the attack on Sharon Budd, another rock-throwing incident, driving vehicles through a cornfield and breaking a home’s window with a baseball bat.
The four face adult charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, trespassing, propelling missiles into occupied vehicles, agricultural vandalism and reckless endangerment. Their lawyers declined to comment or did not return phone messages.
Union County District Attorney Pete Johnson said Monday he expected at least one of the four to go through with the preliminary hearing, and that Randy Budd was likely to testify for the prosecution. At preliminary hearings, prosecutors have a lower standard than they do to get a conviction, and need to produce only enough evidence to send the charges to county court for trial.
The updated police affidavit states Porter told investigators he threw a rock from the Interstate 80 overpass but did not hit anything. But a rock thrown by Dylan Lahr hit a passenger vehicle that then pulled off the road, Porter told police, according to the affidavit.
The Budds were passengers in a Nissan Rogue driven by their college student daughter, on their way from their home in Uniontown, Ohio, to see a show in New York, when the rock smashed through the windshield and nearly killed Sharon.
Randy Budd said his wife probably does not yet realize what occurred.
“We’re not having conversations with her – they’re not two-way,” he said. “But she does seem like she knows what’s going on around her, or the people around her. She’s just so, to me, loving and smiling. We ask if she’s in pain, she says ‘no’ all the time.”
He said a teacher at her school sent him a photo on Monday of faculty members wearing pink T-shirts that expressed their support for her, and there are plans to honor her during a high school football game scheduled for later this month.