MEMORIAL MASS–Members of the Seton Hill University’s women’s Lacrosse team attend a memorial mass in St. Joseph Chapel on coach on the school’s Greensburg, Pa., Sunday, March 17, 2013. (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Joe Hermitt)
by Kevin Begos
Associated Press Writer
GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Somber athletes, students and school staff hugged and cried in a century-old chapel on the campus of a small Catholic university outside Pittsburgh, mourning the loss of a coach who died along with her unborn child when the team’s bus crashed on the way to a game.
Members of the Seton Hill University community tearfully gathered at Saint Joseph Chapel, known on the hilltop campus as “the heart” of the school, to memorialize victims of the fatal crash — especially head lacrosse coach Kristina Quigley, who was remembered as warm, outgoing and a natural leader.
The ornate chapel with 20-foot high stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes, marble columns, and arched ceilings, echoed with biblical readings and songs, followed by prayers and sermons.
Those in attendance were reminded of their own mortality by the Rev. Jeremiah O’Shea, who asked: “Aren’t we all so helpless in the face of death?”
Players and coaches from Seton Hill were among 23 people aboard when the bus crashed into a tree Saturday morning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Harrisburg. The team was headed to an afternoon game at Millersville University, about 50 miles from the crash site in central Pennsylvania. Police are investigating the cause.
Quigley, 30, of Greensburg, died of her injuries at a hospital, Cumberland County authorities said. Quigley was about six months pregnant, and her unborn son didn’t survive. The bus driver, Anthony Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown, died at the scene.
The service program read “In Loving Memory of Kristina Quigley and Son.”
“It’s numbing,” said sophomore Kt Dimmick of Rochester, N.Y., who was friends with some members of the team. “There’s really no words for it. The simple fact that she was pregnant.”
Some members of the women’s lacrosse team, wearing their team jerseys, walked down the aisle during the service, holding hands and fighting back tears. They were joined at the service by members of the school’s track, basketball and baseball teams. Some students wiped away tears, while most were somber and quiet through the 65-minute long service.
Men’s basketball coach Tony Morocco said Quigley made an impact in the two years she was at the school.
“In the short time she was here, she was really a sincere person who always used coaching to touch kids,” he said. “Often that is so missed.”
Morocco said that the school’s mission is to take a student and develop their soul. “She did that,” he said.
“What she gave those girls is going to outlast this,” the 70-year-old Morocco said.
Quigley, a native of Baltimore, was married and had a young son, Gavin, according to the school. No members of her family spoke at the service.
A small memorial to the coach and team sprouted in front of a lacrosse net on a field next to the university’s baseball complex earlier Sunday. With the baseball players practicing in the background on a cold day, students and other mourners visited the memorial that featured bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, a lacrosse stick, a whistle and a candle in front of a team photo and signs reading “In memoriam – Kristina Quigley – Forever a Griffin.”
Members of the baseball team and fans observed a minute of silence for the two crash victims before their game.
The Catholic liberal arts school of about 2,500 students on 200 wooded acres atop a hill overlooking was plunged into mourning when word of the crash reached campus Saturday. The school is offering grief counseling to students.
Two victims flown to Penn State Hershey Medical Center remained there Sunday, and no official information was released. Amanda Michalski, from the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, is a freshman attacker. She is one of the players taken to the medical center. Her lacrosse coach at Coon Rapids High School, Jeff DeJoy, tells the St. Paul Pioneer Press that her parents, Gary and Gretchen Michalski, are now with her. He says he hasn’t been able to confirm the extent of her injuries.
Another woman injured in the crash was discharged Sunday afternoon from another hospital. All others aboard the bus were taken to hospitals as a precaution, but almost all were treated and released.
Police couldn’t immediately say what had caused the crash, and the investigation is ongoing. The front side of the bus, which was towed from the scene Saturday night, was shorn away, and the vehicle came to rest upright about 70 yards from the highway at the bottom of a grassy slope.
The bus operator, Mlaker Charter & Tours, of Davidsville, Pa., is up to date on its inspections, which include bus and driver safety checks, said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for the state Public Utility Commission, which regulates bus companies.
The agency’s motor safety inspectors could think of no accidents or violations involving the company that would raise a red flag, she said, though complete safety records were not available Saturday.
On Tuesday, another bus carrying college lacrosse players from a Vermont team was hit by a sports car that spun out of control on a wet highway in upstate New York, sending the bus toppling onto its side, police said. One person in the car died.