Man killed in crash was 'very caring'


Joseph A. "Joey" DeGrange's family couldn't believe he wasn't wearing his seat belt when the car in which he was riding crashed Sunday morning, claiming his life.

Ever since he was in a crash in which a Hagerstown youth died five years ago, DeGrange lectured people who didn't use seat belts, his mother, Bonnie Gravley, said.

On Sunday, DeGrange and three other people were in a 1992 Saturn sedan when it crashed near Shepherdstown, W.Va. DeGrange, 20, of Smithsburg, was pronounced dead at the scene.


West Virginia State Police said the driver, Alan Magoun, 20, of Hagerstown, was heading north on River Road, a winding road near the Potomac River. At about 12:50 a.m., the car veered off a sharp curve and hit a tree.

DeGrange grew up in Hagerstown. He attended South Hagerstown High School, but dropped out before graduating, said his brother, Matthew, 18.

For the last four or five months, DeGrange worked at Blockbuster Video on Dual Highway.

"He was great, very dependable," Manager Jon Adams said. "Always very enthusiastic, very nice."

DeGrange loved movies, especially about martial arts, said his girlfriend, Sabrina Itnyre, 18, of Boonsboro.

Itnyre said DeGrange was determined to get his GED so he could join the U.S. Army.

Itnyre said she swore that she would follow him wherever he was stationed.

"He was very caring," she said. "He really loved his mom and his friends. ... His family came first."

Gravley said her son's wild sense of humor drove him to dress up like a belly dancer for Halloween last year.

DeGrange, the second-oldest of seven children, would play with his 7-month-old sister by sticking his tongue ring out and letting her try to grab it, then pulling his tongue back in.

In recent years, a lot of his time was spent on friends, skateboards, bikes and car talk, his mother said.

As a boy, he was a Hagerstown Suns batboy for three seasons. One year, he was picked to represent the Suns at the league all-star game in Asheville, N.C., Gravley said.

Itnyre said she met DeGrange when he and some of his friends were riding their bikes in Boonsboro about a year ago. He called out to her, she called back to him, they talked some and they went out on a date.

"I knew he cared about me," she said. "I wasn't going to let something like that slip away."

In September 1998, DeGrange was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla that crashed, killing the driver, Michael Lee Evans of Hagerstown.

Police at the time said Evans was speeding and "hill-hopping" on Old Forge Road when he lost control of his car.

The cause of Sunday's crash has not been determined.

No one in the car was wearing a seat belt when the car crashed, police said.

Magoun was listed in serious condition at Washington County Hospital on Monday.

The two other passengers, Mary Slavinsky, 22, of Great Cacapon, W.Va., and John Damico, 25, of Hagerstown, were listed in good condition Monday at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.

Slavinsky was sitting in the front passenger seat. DeGrange was sitting behind Magoun, and Damico was seated next to DeGrange, Walker said.

Staff writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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