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Ruffsdale woman, 2-year-old son die in crash

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Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 12:06 p.m.

A Ruffsdale woman lost control of her car and crashed head-on into a pickup truck along Route 981 in South Huntingdon in the early morning darkness on Thursday, killing her and her 2-year-old son, authorities said.

Jillian Marie Trayter, 31, and Calin Harvey Trayter died at the scene, according to Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Sean Hribal.

Don Neville, who lives near the crash scene in Reagantown, tried to assist the mother and child.

“Neither one could be helped at that point. The mother was out on the ground, face-down. (The boy) was properly (restrained) in a car seat. He was still in the vehicle,” Neville said.

“He was not responding. If he had been, I would have taken him into the house to get warm,” he said.

A passing nurse stopped and asked if she could help.

“She came back crying,” he said.

Facebook photos show Trayter and her husband, Justin Trayter, doting on their son. In some snapshots, the tow-headed boy grins in a high chair, wears oversize sunglasses, sports bunny ears and shows off Steelers-print pajamas.

On Wednesday, Trayter had posted an expression she wanted to paint on a wall in Calin's room: “With a butterfly kiss and a ladybug hug, sleep tight, little one, like a bug in a rug.”

Family members could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Trayter graduated from Yough High School in 2000, according to her Facebook page. She and Justin Trayter married in 2004, county records show.

Trayter had worked at UPS in New Stanton as a part-time packaging operations sorter for 13 years, corporate spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said.

“She worked a twilight (shift). She was not on the job at the time of the accident. It is very sad. She certainly had a long service with us,” Rosenberg said.

Both victims died of blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, Hribal said.

Though the temperature was below freezing, weather did not appear to be a factor in the accident, he said.

State police said Trayter lost control of her car at 6:50 a.m. near Mann's Road and traveled into the oncoming lane. It struck the front of a pickup truck driven by Matthew Pravlik, 29, of Ruffsdale, then hit the trailer he was towing.

Neville, 66, said he was watching the news when he heard the crash.

“There are always deer getting hit out here. Then I heard all these cars start to stop. I went outside and saw the car — what was left of it,” he said.

Neville said Pravlik was on the phone with 911.

“He was trying to tell them where he was. It was pitch dark,” he said.

The truck driver was shaken up but did not appear to be seriously injured, Neville said.

“He kept saying, ‘There was nothing I could do' and ‘I tried to get out of the way.' There is no place to pull over,” Neville said.

Pravlik was taken to Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant for treatment of minor injuries, police said.

The investigation is continuing, but no charges are expected to be filed, police spokeswoman Stefani Plume said.

Autopsies are not planned, but standard toxicology tests will be performed on Jillian Trayter, Hribal said.

Neville said the accident was the worst he's seen in the 37 years he's lived in the community.

“This is a bad stretch of road. There is a blind hill and blind curve,” he said.

Neville said he didn't know Trayter.

“I'm a veteran, and this is still hard,” he said.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of McCauley Funeral Home in West Newton.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or




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