Mother of nine dies in crash in Waynesboro, Pa.

March 17, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • A police officer and three other people were taken to hospitals after this three-vehicle crash at the intersection of Grant and West Main streets in Waynesboro, Pa.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Pennsylvania State Police are participating in the investigation of two related crashes early Thursday in the Waynesboro area, one of which killed a mother of nine children.

Judithann L. Clement, of 604 Vista Court, Waynesboro, died of injuries suffered when the Dodge Grand Caravan she was driving was struck by a car involved in a 120-mph police pursuit moments before the midnight crash. Clement was flown by helicopter to York (Pa.) Hospital following the accident.

Clement, 45, was an "integral part of our faith community," a spokeswoman for Waynesboro's St. Andrew Catholic Church said of the woman who taught eighth-grade Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes, coordinated the youth group and served as a marriage mentor.

Clement and her husband, David, joined St. Andrew Catholic Church in 1998.

David Michael Szumigala of Ocean Springs, Miss., was driving a red Chevrolet Impala that collided with Clement's minivan, Waynesboro police said.

Waynesboro police filed 18 criminal charges against Szumigala, including homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter. He was charged with driving without a license.

Washington Township, Pa., police said they received a complaint of reckless driving in the Walmart parking lot and saw Szumigala's car speeding in the lot. Police said Szumigala fled an attempted traffic stop, and continued to drive onto Old Route 16 and Pa. 16.

Washington Township officer John Brady pursued the Impala and failed to negotiate Beck's Curve near Renfrew Park, where his police cruiser hit a guardrail.

"At that point the pursuit was terminated. The officer was examined at the hospital and released," according to a police news release.

The Impala traveled more than a mile west into the Borough of Waynesboro, where the collision with Clement's minivan occurred at the intersection of Grant and West Main streets, police said.

Waynesboro police said Szumigala did not stop for a red light and hit the minivan as it was turning.

The minivan was pushed into a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, Waynesboro police said in a news release.

The driver of the pickup, Joshua Lynn, was uninjured, but a passenger in that vehicle, Cassandra Soini, was taken to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown, where her condition was unavailable Thursday night.

Szumigala was taken to York Hospital, where he was listed in satisfactory condition Thursday morning.

A hospital spokesman and Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner confirmed Clement's death occurred that morning.

Authorities closed Pa. 16, which is Main Street in the borough limits, until 8 a.m. between Potomac Street and Fairview Avenue.

Washington Township Police Chief Barry Keller said his department would be investigating speed as part of its internal probe into the police pursuit.

He said the county 911 center was aware of the chase, which he described as being so brief the typical information about traffic and weather conditions couldn't be relayed to the on-duty supervisor.

A second Washington Township officer began to stop at Beck's Curve, but continued into the borough when a Waynesboro borough officer indicated he would handle the situation on the curve.

"When (the second Washington Township officer) got to the scene, the Waynesboro borough (officers) were getting the guy out" of the crashed car, Keller said.

Waynesboro Police Chief Mark King said his officers had their guns drawn when they pulled Szumigala from the car. He said they did not know why the suspect was fleeing, and he initially appeared to be uninjured with free use of both hands.

Five borough officers were on the scene, King said.

An employee at St. Andrew Catholic Church, who did not want to be named, said the Rev. John Bateman, the priest at St. Andrew, was with the Clement family.

She described Judithann Clement as an outgoing, caring woman who shared her faith with others.

"Her scope of participation in the church was very far, really, and we're devastated by her death," she said. 

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