Remembering Victims of Deadly Route 61 Crash

NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP -- A 7-year-old boy and a local race track legend are being remembered in Schuylkill County after both lost their lives in a crash.

Loved ones had to climb over snowbanks along Route 61 to place balloons and keepsakes at the site of Saturday's deadly crash.

State police say a reconstruction of the scene near Orwigsburg failed to reveal why a Chevy driven by Lauren Bechtel of Pottsville collided into a Subaru driven by Mark Naftzinger, 57, of New Ringgold. Naftzinger lost his life along with Bechtel's 7-year-old son, Gage Evans.

"He is a sweet little boy, such a cutie pie," said Eileen Guitas, Wayne Township.

Neighbors recalled how much fun the little boy would have when he visited his grandfather.

"His grandfather used to have him out throwing the ball in the yard and on the back of his truck. He liked his grandfather's truck. He would be playing in the back of that," said Guitas.

The loss will also be felt at John S. Clarke Elementary School in Pottsville.

"It's heartbreaking. It's really heartbreaking. I have seven grandchildren of my own. I just can't imagine what they are going through."

At the same time, fans of amateur car racing posted tributes to Mark Naftzinger, who was part of the scene at local tracks for decades.

"It's a guy we all looked up to and it's tough," race track announcer Gary Lileck.

Lileck explained that in Schuylkill County, Naftzinger personified grass roots racing.

"He was the type of guy who would go out there with the car you wouldn't expect to win. He would have an old beat up car, and he would somehow find a way to win or be up there all the time," Lileck said.

Friends say the other driver, Lauren Bechtel, is still in the hospital.

In just a few hours, an online fundraiser collected more than $10,000 for her medical bills and her son's funeral expenses.