Families buoyed by Plum community support
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Within the span of nine months, the lives of two Plum families were changed forever.
Kimberly Griffith, 45, and her daughters, Brenna and Mikaela Griffith, 12 and 8, respectively, died Aug. 19, 2011, when they were trapped in their minivan during a flash flood on Washington Boulevard in Highland Park.
On May 12, 2012, Christine Beilstein, 45, died when a tow truck driven by Duane C. Woodson, 51, of Point Breeze, crossed into opposing traffic in the 1000 block of Milltown Road in Penn Hills and collided head-on with Beilstein's vehicle, according to police.
Beilstein's son, Justin Beilstein, 9, suffered severe head injuries and continues his recovery at the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill.
The two families have received support from the community.
Later this month, the school community, — led by the Plum Borough Education Association (PBEA) consisting of teachers in the Plum School District — is hosting an event to honor the memories of the deceased and provide financial support.
The Second Annual Fall Festival Parade in the Park is scheduled for Oct. 28 at the Boyce Park Ski Lodge.
The PBEA conducts fundraisers throughout the year.
J.R. Pilyih, treasurer of the PBEA, said last year's inaugural festival — that included a casino night — raised $25,000. Proceeds went to the Griffith Family Memorial Fund.
“I talked with Mr. (Chris) Griffith, and he doesn't want the money going to his family,” Pilyih said.
“He said there are more needy families in Plum.”
The PBEA decided the event will serve to honor the memory of the Griffith family and help the Beilstein family financially.
Pilyih hopes to raise about $5,000 for the Beilsteins.
William Beilstein, 46, Justin Beilstein's father, said following the crash that killed his ex-wife, Justin spent a couple of months at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh and currently is at the Children's Institute.
Beilstein, who also has an older son, Jacob, 14, said Justin suffered a severe head injury.
Also Justin's left hip was broken and he suffered a compound fracture to his left femur.
The youngster has had three surgeries and will need more, said Beilstein, a 1985 Plum High School graduate who lives in Alabama but has been staying in Pittsburgh while his son recovers from his injuries.
Justin also is starting to communicate by blinking and is beginning to eat.
“We don't know what the extent of his recovery will be,” Beilstein said.
Woodson, 50, faces several charges including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and a variety of traffic violations.
Woodson is in the Allegheny County Jail.
He is scheduled for a non-jury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip A. Ignelzi on Monday.
Beilstein appreciates the PBEA's efforts.
“It is great,” Beilstein said.
“There is nothing you can say or do to thank people for something like this.”
Pilyih sees the timing of the festival as just right. It falls between Plum Community Days in the summer and Sugar Plum Days in December.
“As we go on, we hope it (the festival) gets bigger and better,” Pilyih said.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Kesler remains on Penguins’ radar as Shero looks bring back ‘Big 3’ formula
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Vietnam says it may have found missing jet’s door
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Steelers defense doesn’t make the grade in 2013 review
- Ukrainians steel to resist Russian aggression
- SUV flips onto its side on Parkway East