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S. Greensburg mom mourns daughter, 19, killed in Parkway East crash

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, May 26, 2017, 6:57 a.m.
Sheila Fennell, 19, of South Greensburg, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on the Parkway East near Monroeville on Friday, May 26, 2017. She was a 2016 Greensburg Salem graduate.
Submitted
Sheila Fennell, 19, of South Greensburg, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on the Parkway East near Monroeville on Friday, May 26, 2017. She was a 2016 Greensburg Salem graduate.
Sheila Fennell, 19, of South Greensburg, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on the Parkway East near Monroeville on Friday, May 26, 2017. She was a 2016 Greensburg-Salem High School graduate.
Submitted
Sheila Fennell, 19, of South Greensburg, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on the Parkway East near Monroeville on Friday, May 26, 2017. She was a 2016 Greensburg-Salem High School graduate.
A 19-year-old Greensburg woman was killed early Friday, May 26, 2017, when her vehicleflipped over and  struck this road sign on the Parkway East near Monroeville.
Mike DiVittorio
A 19-year-old Greensburg woman was killed early Friday, May 26, 2017, when her vehicleflipped over and struck this road sign on the Parkway East near Monroeville.

With tears in her eyes, Tonia Patterson sat in her South Greensburg living room looking at framed photographs of her daughter.

There was Sheila Fennell in her Greensburg Salem High School basketball uniform and as a volleyball player.

There was Fennell in a white cap and gown as a 2016 high school graduate.

And on Patterson's phone were more pictures of her 19-year-old daughter — one with flawless makeup and another with a pink flower in her hair — now memories of a woman who died early Friday in an Allegheny County car crash.

"I'm numb," Patterson said. "I'm just numb as a parent."

"She's gone. She only had 19 years of her life," Patterson said. "My heart. My only daughter."

State police said Fennell lost control of her vehicle at 2:11 a.m. while driving east on the Parkway East near Monroeville. Her vehicle flipped over and struck a road sign, police said.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled Fennell's death an accident caused by blunt force trauma of the head and neck.

She and a friend, Makayla Evans, 20, of Youngwood, were driving home after a concert. Evans was treated at a hospital and released.

Evans, other friends and family members, including brother James Fennell, gathered Friday at Patterson's home to mourn Sheila Fennell, whom they described as a motivated, outgoing fashionista.

"How does my heart go on?" said Patterson, whose last conversation with her daughter was to make sure she was safe at the concert. "She's not walking back in that door. What do you do as a parent? What else could I have done?"

Patterson laughed thinking about how many pairs of shoes her daughter had accumulated and her nickname — "Diva Sheila." She took obvious pride that her daughter recently completed her freshman year at Youngstown State University and her achievements in sports, academics and life. Fennell hoped to be a neonatal nurse, her mother said.

"To have a young woman with so much potential just taken away ... no mother should have to go through ... pain," she said through tears, pausing to compose herself.

Patterson encouraged other young women to emulate her daughter.

"She had her life organized; it was just stopped too soon," Patterson said. "Keep achieving. You can do anything."

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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