Sunday, November 21, 2010

Obituary - Stone

MELINDA R. STONE, 12, of Delran, died Thursday after being struck by a car while crossing Route 130 in Delran. Melinda was a seventh grade student at Delran Middle School. She was a member of the Marcia Hyland Dance Studio in Mount Laurel and the Play Crafters Theatrical Group in Cherry Hill. Survivors: her mother, Rose A. of Delran; her father, Thomas of Tampa, Fla.; a sister, Melissa R., at home; and her paternal grandparents, Thomas of Tampa, Fla., and Joan of Deer Park, NY, and her maternal grandparents, Sebastian and Rose Garcia of Puerto Rico. Services: Mass of Christian Burial, 9:30 am today, St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Church, 502 New Jersey Ave., Riverside. Perinchief Chapels, Mount Holly.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Monday, Nov 2, 1992

Bittersweet Sale Helps Students Remember The Friend They Lost Delran Middle Schoolers Are Raising Money For A Memorial To A Classmate Killed In An Accident In October.

Source: Posted: February 21, 1993

DELRAN — Sweets in memory of a sweet girl.

The friends of Melinda Stone were selling them Wednesday at Delran Middle School just one day after what would have been her 13th birthday. They were hoping to raise enough money to commemorate the name of the bubbly 12-year- old, whose life was tragically ended last fall on Route 130 South.

Late in the afternoon on Oct. 29, Melinda tried to cross the busy road near the entrance of Holy Cross High School. In what Delran police have ruled an accident, she was killed after running in front of a car.

Her numerous friends at the school have yet to completely shake the shock.

The next school day after the accident, they skipped classes to express their pain in group discussions run by middle school nurse Joan Lewis and a high school counselor. That's where the idea of a fund-raising event, which became Wednesday's candy sale, came up.

Then they collected signatures on a petition demanding that a pedestrian overpass be constructed over the crosswalk where Melinda was killed. They presented the petitions to the Township Council on a night when they could have been watching television or playing games.

When the council voted to request a traffic study by the Department of Transportation, they were there again, pleading with the council for action, hugging Melinda's sorrowful mother, Rose Stone, afterward.

Melinda's kindness and good humor have remained positive forces in their lives. They didn't express any angry sentiments Wednesday, not even toward the driver of the car that struck their friend.

Colleen Maher, 13, called it an accident at "a very dangerous crossing."

It was just that the candy sale, held in the school cafeteria during periods five, six and seven, helped rekindled her spirit even more.

"It's just like she was here," 13-year-old Nicole Kowalewski said. ''Sometimes you can close your eyes and she's right here talking to you."

Nicole had opened the one-day sale by announcing to youngsters over an intercom, "Our goal is $75, so please spend your money."

At a table set up between a fruit-juice machine and a slush machine, she and others handled a steady stream of sweet-toothed schoolmates, who paid 25 cents apiece for fruit snacks and Tootsie pops, 10 cents apiece for Twizzlers and five cents each for Sweet Tarts.

Toward the end of the lunch period, they had collected $38.14, which was held in a tightly guarded cigar box.

They talked of purchasing a plaque "so that people will remember her," said Jenna Lipson, 13.

"She was real nice," sixth grader Justin Brooks said. "She was there if you had a problem."

The construction of a pedestrian crosswalk isn't a lost issue in their minds, though it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Department of Transportation.

Lewis said the youngsters were encouraged when area politicians, who received copies of the petition, wrote them letters describing the efforts they were making to arrange a transportation study.

But the purchase of a plaque is a more attainable goal, and the student council has agreed to donate some of the profits from school dances toward it.

The candy sale was just one more piece in a cathartic puzzle that is

helping the youngsters deal with their loss.

For instance, they spoke excitedly of the forthcoming yearbooks. All three will include special sections with pictures of Melinda.

"It's important that they don't forget," Lewis said. "I think it's made their lives more valuable."

Officials Are Asked For Safe Crossing Of Rt. 130 In Delran A Man Who Was Struck While Crossing The Street Spoke. So Did Friends Of A Girl Who Died Crossing It.

Source: Posted: March 26, 1993

DELRAN — Home from working the Alaska oilfields, Delran resident Tom McConaghy was crossing Route 130 on Sept. 1, 1990.

Two weeks later, he would wake up from a coma to the realization his life would never be the same.

Yesterday, speaking in a deliberate, slightly slurred voice, McConaghy, 29, told a panel of state officials that ways must be found to make it safe for pedestrians to cross the busy highway. He went into the coma after he was hit by a pickup truck while crossing near Hartford Road - at least, that's what his mother told him later, he said.

"I'm not here to talk about what happened," McConaghy said. "I have to say, what's more important, money or a human life? . . . The stuff I have to go through is really bad because of this accident."

While McConaghy is alive, 12-year-old Melinda Stone is not. She was run over and killed last year while trying to cross Route 130 South near the entrance to Holy Cross High School.

Delran police ruled it an accident.

The death of the bubbly, likeable girl mobilized her friends into action. They raised money for a memorial and attended township meetings. They gathered nearly 300 signatures on a petition calling for an overpass and presented it to the township council and to State Sen. Brad Smith and Assemblymen Priscilla Anderson and Jose Sosa, all Republicans.

Those efforts were the impetus for yesterday's panel, which listened and answered questions, but made no promises, though officials did pledge to expedite a Department of Transportation study.

"I think it is very, very evident that we would like to act as soon as possible," said State Sen. C. William Haines, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "We will help in the legislature to do what we have to do."

"I feel we have a very good chance," said Rose Stone, Melinda's mother, after the hearing.

In addition to Haines, the panel consisted of Sosa, Anderson, Smith, P. Norman Deitch, manager of the DOT's Bureau of Traffic Engineering and Safety Programs, Denise Coyle, executive assistant to DOT Commissioner Tom Downs, and Peter Mangoosian, from the Office of Legislative Services.

Deitch said the Department of Transportation had begun studying traffic on Route 130 and hoped to have a study concluded in several months.

Afterward, about 60 students who attended walked back to the Delran Middle School. They had been given permission to attend partly as a civics lesson, but also to continue their efforts in favor of a safe crossing.

As they walked back, there was sobbing and tears, as groups of twos and threes consoled each other.

"I thought it was good," said Lena Farally, one of Stone's best friends, of the hearing. "We have to get a crosswalk."

Deitch rejected the possibility of building an underpass because it could provide a haven for criminals and could not be easily policed. An overpass could cost as much as $1 million, he said.

At the existing crosswalk near where Stone was killed, there is a pedestrian traffic light can be activated from the side of the road.

Delran police said Stone didn't use the signal. According to Dietch, the current setup could not be made safer.

Some students who spoke before the panel found it difficult emotionally.

"I know I'm only a kid, and my opinion doesn't mean much," said Nicole Kowalewski, 13, while Lena Farally put a sensitive arm around her shoulder. ''We loved Melinda Stone very much."

Said Sosa: "I just want to tell you your opinion does count."

No comments: