By Bob Bauder, BEAVER COUNTY TIMES STAFF
Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Reprinted with permission by the Beaver County Times
Dan and Jessica DeMarco were just starting their lives together.
They met at Geneva College, where he excelled in baseball and she starred on the softball team.
They became friends through Geneva’s tight-knit sporting community.
They fell in love after she graduated in 2006 and would have marked their first wedding anniversary next month.
Jessica DeMarco, 25, was killed Saturday in a traffic accident at Routes 51 and 168 in South Beaver Township, and her husband was critically injured. Three other Beaver County residents, who were in another vehicle, also died. The DeMarcos were about five minutes from their home on Redbud Drive in Chippewa Township.
On Tuesday, friends at Geneva and throughout the community prayed for Daniel DeMarco. They remembered Jessica as a sweet woman who would do anything to help a friend.
“There was just nobody who has ever met her who could say they did not like her,” said Ashley Frynkewicz of Center Township, one of Jessica’s former softball teammates.
Daniel DeMarco, 25, remained in critical condition Tuesday at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. Friends said he is in a coma as a result of a head injury and is being treated for other injuries as well.
He works in the business office at McCarl’s Inc. in Beaver Falls and is studying for a master’s in business at Geneva. Head baseball coach Alan Sumner said DeMarco was an outstanding player and a team leader.
“He’s just a fighter, and we are praying that he pulls through this,” Sumner said. “I think he has the ability to pull through this.”
Meanwhile, police continued to search for clues in the accident. A team of state and local police and county detectives spent about six hours at the crash scene Tuesday reconstructing events, said Assistant South Beaver Police Chief Jack Mintier. He said he was unable to provide additional details.
Friends said Jessica DeMarco had talent that enabled her to juggle a grueling Geneva curriculum while excelling as an athlete. A chemical engineer for Michael Baker Jr. Inc. in Moon Township, she graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry.
Her former coach said she epitomized the definition of student athlete.
“There was nobody better,” said Van Zanic, Geneva’s sports information director and head softball coach. “One day I walked through about 7:30 in the morning, and she was sitting in a science and engineering classroom. When I came back in the afternoon, she was in that exact same spot. So she had been there for eight or nine hours. That’s just an example of the hard work she put in.”
He said he always uses her as an example for prospective students touring Geneva.
She was a four-year starter on the softball team and served as a captain her junior and senior years. Zanic said she threw left-handed and batted right, a rarity for softball and baseball players.
“She just had an ability to do a lot of things athletically,” he said. “Everybody loved her. She just didn’t do anything wrong.”
Former teammate Mandi Cwynar of Center said she and other teammates would tease Jessica about going out with them after classes. She always insisted on first completing her schoolwork. Those teammates, who remain close after graduation, are planning to attend Jessica’s funeral together.
“She was probably the nicest person I ever met,” Cwynar said.