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Family recovering after accident

December 27, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Four members of a Pensacola, Fla., family remained in area hospitals Monday after a Thursday night crash on Interstate 81 that killed one of them.

Elizabeth C. Featherman, 46, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her husband, 48-year-old Thomas L. Featherman, the driver, was in serious condition at York (Pa.) Hospital. Daughter Anna, 15, was in serious condition and daughter Mary, 19, in fair at Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center. Tyler Featherman, 2, Thomas and Elizabeth Featherman's grandson, was in serious condition at Hershey, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Marie Featherman, 19, the sixth passenger in the family's Isuzu Rodeo, was released from Waynesboro Hospital early Friday.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, the family was southbound on the interstate near Greencastle around 10:10 p.m. when their sport utility vehicle went out of control, ran in and out of the median and rolled over several times. All were ejected except Thomas Featherman, who was wearing a seat belt, police said.

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The family was returning to Pensacola after attending a funeral for Thomas Featherman's father in Strasburg, Pa., said Hunter Abbott, a Washington County social worker who spent part of Christmas day helping Marie Featherman. She was given a place to stay at Kingdom Choices, a shelter for women near Mercersburg, Pa. She had been taken there around 2 a.m. Friday, according to Kingdom Choices' Elena Bain.

Abbott and a cousin from Scranton, Pa., drove there to get Marie. They took her to Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown to be with her younger sister, Anna, Bain said. Authorities delayed telling Anna her mother had died in the crash until Marie could be with her, Bain said.

Anna was transferred to Hershey Medical Center Sunday night to be closer to the rest of her family, Bain said. "They're trying to get them all in the same place," she said.

Margaret Featherman, the mother of Tyler and the Featherman's oldest daughter, attends college in Mobile, Ala., and did not make the trip to Strasburg, according to the Rev. Richard Altenbaugh, pastor of St. John's Catholic Church in Pensacola, where the family worships. She drove to Pennsylvania Friday morning, he said.

Margaret and her sister, Marie, were staying in the Hershey area, he said.

Altenbaugh said he announced news of the accident during the Christmas Eve mass and asked for prayers for the family at all three masses on Christmas. "Word (of the accident) was getting around the congregation," he said. "It shook us up."

There are about 550 families in the church, he said.

Altenbaugh said he expects to officiate over Elizabeth Featherman's funeral service, but he did not know any details Monday night.

According to the priest, the Feathermans are a close-knit family. Anna and Marie attend Pensacola Catholic High School.

Thomas Featherman's job as an electronics technician takes him all over the world, said Frank Dyke, a co-worker.

"We're out of town 80 percent of the time. We've been working for the last eight months in California," Dyke said.

"Tom had just gotten home when he had to go up to Pennsylvania for his father's funeral," Dyke said. "They were trying to get back home for Christmas."

Dyke praised the Featherman family and expressed sympathy for its patriarch.

"Tom is a most outstanding guy," he said. "He has four beautiful daughters, and that little grandson means the world to him. He's going to be devastated over the death of his wife. I'm thinking of flying up there to be with him."

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