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Friday, March 4, 2016

It Seems Like Yesterday...

... but it was actually 35 years ago.

On the night of March 6, 1981, eight Mid Valley school students were killed in a one car crash along Underwood Road in Throop.

They became known as the "Mid Valley Eight," and I always hated that.  It made them sound like a prison gang rather than a bunch of kids who made a horrible mistake.

I'll never forget that night.  At the time, I was a Marywood sophomore, two years out of MVHS.  A family friend called to deliver the news.  It seemed like everyone in the Mid Valley communities of Throop, Dickson City, and Olyphant knew.  Every light, in every home was on.  I got the same eerie feeling in July 1996, while pulling in to Montoursville, in July of 1996, just after TWA 800 exploded.  The town was wide awake.

The Mid Valley thing hit close to home.  One of the victims, Elizabeth Mecca, was a neighbor.  She lived a block away.  I grew up with her brother.  Elizabeth delivered my family's afternoon newspaper.  I went to the viewing and attempted to speak with her mom.   I said how sorry I was.  Mom's mouth opened.  She was unable to speak.

We later learned alcohol was involved.  The kids were at a party just before the crash.  This didn't have to happen, but I can understand it.  A lot of kids, underage kids, drink.  They did back then.  They do now.  Most get away with it.  This group did not.

It's strange when you think about it.  These kids would be around 50 now, some older.

I can still see the flattened car, the banged up guide rail, the tears of all those classmates at the funeral.  It stays with you, even 35 years later.  Trips to Underwood Road are rare for me.  The damaged section of guide rail was replaced decades ago.  Still, I can't drive past that spot without thinking about those kids.