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Valley View School Community Mourns Loss of Classmate

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PECKVILLE -- Thursday was a night of remembering a Valley View High School freshman who was killed in a crash late Wednesday night.

From a moment of silence at the school’s graduation ceremony to a candlelight vigil afterwards, students honored 15-year-old Austin Bumbarger.

“Before we begin tonight's ceremony, I would ask for a moment of silence to remember a young man who was a student of Valley View High who died tragically last night.”

It was a somber start to the 2015 Valley View High School graduation ceremony, but these seniors say they were more than glad to do this.

It was to remember 15-year-old freshman Austin Bumbarger, who died in a crash late Wednesday night.

“Any student who passes should be, have some sort of memorial, have acknowledgment,” said senior Mark Ferraro.

“It's really difficult, especially when this time is supposed to be all celebratory and then we kind of have to mourn over somebody that we tragically lost. It's unfortunate that we have to blend the two emotions,” said junior Douglas Gerichten.

Jessup police say Austin was killed when the Cadillac Escalade he was riding in swerved on Valley View Drive, went over the guide rail,  and crashed down an embankment some 300 feet below.

Austin, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown about 60 feet from the SUV.

The driver, 17-year-old Nicole Vollrath, and another passenger, 14-year-old Victoria Hutchins, both of Dickson City, climbed up the embankment to get help.

Austin was flown to the hospital where he later died.

As night fell, those who loved Austin came first to leave flowers at the crash site then gathered in Jessup for a candlelight vigil.

“He was a big part of my life. I just talked to him all the time,” said friend Abigail Ropoch.

“When you were upset you would text him and he would make you feel better,” said friend Angel Hunting.

“I still can't get it through my head that he's not with us anymore,” said friend Peter Lamandre.

Austin's father was among those at the vigil to mourn with his son's friends and classmates.

“Just to know that all these people loved him, this was all of his friends, so it's pretty nice that everybody came out to do this,” said Lamandre.

Jessup police are still investigating the crash and say the driver could face some summary charge, but no alcohol was involved.


  • Franko

    I had an interesting question, because I had just seen that there will be some form of summons issued to the driver – I was wondering if it could possibly be over any laws in PA regarding drivers under the age of 18 ?
    And in regards to the seatbelt thing, it is sort of odd that most adults have had it drilled into their heads about seat belts because these mandatory laws went into effect when many of us were teens, so we had gotten used to the fact that they have to be worn, sort of like second nature. Yet I do not understand the thing with teens now – at least 50% of the time that there is a report of an accident involving teens, you hear that some, if not all, of the teens were not wearing seat belts. I just don’t get the difference in generations. Many of us were the generation that did not have it required yet I feel that a very large portion of us wear them as adults. Yet the kids now have had seat belts on since they have been toddlers and, if they had responsible parents, were wearing them even as young teens in their parents cars. You would think that it would be an automatic response to do, yet they get in a car with their friends and no one wears them. It’s such a shame that all of this had to happen, and yet the message still won’t sink into some of the kids heads that you should be wearing them, especially if you are sitting in the front.

  • Sasha McClain

    The jessup chief of police reported only that no alcohol was involved, but what about drugs? Did they even check for that? It’s so upsetting that a young boy lost his life. The driver is going to have to live with that her whole life which if a terrible feeling, I lost my daughter to a car accident; which involved drugs.

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