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Crash kills Herminie teen

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 10:38 a.m.

A 17-year-old Yough High School junior was killed early Thursday in a one-vehicle accident in New Stanton when the driver swerved to miss a deer.

Principal Earl Thompson said grief counselors were on hand at the school Thursday to help students cope with the loss of Justin Malik of Evans Street in Herminie. He extended condolences to Malik's family.

“I liked him; the loss of a young life is tragic,” Thompson said. “I know this is a parent's worst nightmare.”

Faculty members at the school met Thursday morning and delivered the news to students during homeroom period, Thompson said. The cause of death was ruled as blunt-force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen, according to the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office.

The accident occurred at 12:14 a.m. along Arona Road, according to 911 dispatchers.

The car was driven by Nowel Hershberger, 17, of Mt. Pleasant, said Youngwood fire Chief Lloyd Crago.

Malik was wearing a seat belt, the coroner's office said.

Hershberger was listed in serious condition on Thursday at UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh, where she was taken by medical helicopter.

Trooper Steve Limani said Hershberger told police that she swerved to miss a deer. Crago said the passenger side of the vehicle struck a tree.

Crago said Hershberger was lying on the grass when emergency responders arrived.

Investigators remained on the scene until 3:30 a.m. reconstructing the accident, he said.

Malik had to be extricated from the vehicle. His death has been ruled an accident.

Limani advised motorists not to swerve when faced with an animal in the road, but to brake and, if necessary, strike the animal. Swerving can be dangerous to the driver and other motorists.

He said that drivers with junior drivers licenses are not permitted to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a spouse older than 18 or a parent. It could not be immediately determined if Hershberger was cited.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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