Pain from 1970 hit-and-run death in Herminie still stings
Tears streamed down Janet Vargo's face Sunday as she released a balloon in the spot where her 5-year-old son was killed in 1970.
Her grief has not ebbed in the decades since.
“I think of him every day,” the octogenarian said.
About 20 family members gathered in Herminie on Sunday to celebrate what would have been Joey Vargo's 49th birthday. He was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver outside a coin laundry service on Sewickley Avenue on Sept. 20, 1970.
The driver hasn't been found.
While the eight dryers and 10 washing machines have continued to whir inside the small, deteriorating laundry, Joey's family has wondered who was driving the pickup that hit him.
“It would've been easier to know who did it and that they got away with it” compared with not knowing, said sister Renea Vargo of Charleroi.
According to reports in the Sept. 21, 1970, edition of the Tribune-Review, Joey was pronounced dead in Westmoreland Hospital at 10:38 p.m. State police were looking for a pickup in connection with the fatal crash.
A state trooper said the driver “made no attempt to stop” and fled onto a side street.
Family members said Joey was playing with a ball and had stepped onto the street to grab it. Janet Vargo was inside the laundry loading the remainder of her clean clothing when her son was hit, she said.
“It's just a sad day for me,” she said.
Family members standing in a small, grassy area next to the laundry service released blue balloons after listening to Scripture and words from Pastor Glen Richardson of First Baptist Church in West Newton. It was the first time they gathered there to remember Joey, who was the eighth child of 11.
Posters with handwritten messages on them from family members were put up outside of the laundry. After the balloon release, music by singer Johnny Cash was played. The musician was Joey's favorite, family said.
Renea Vargo was not present at the time of the crash, but she remembers the aftermath.
“It made monsters real to me at 7 years old,” she said.
John Vargo of Charleroi was there, but he was just 6 months old.
“We're not here to try to find justice in that sense, but more to celebrate my brother's birthday,” he said.
The family is hopeful that someone with information about the crash, or even the driver, will come forward.
“Nobody's looking to hold (the driver) responsible at this point,” John Vargo said. “Growing up, it's kind of been hard on our family.”
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reachedat 724-837-5374 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.
- Mother, baby found dead in Millvale apartment
- Whitehall native John Gibson flourishes in goal for Ducks
- Steelers sign former ACC Player of the Year Boyd for QB depth
- Hyde Park woman, 38, faces sex charge with teen
- 2 found dead in Harrison home
- Route 422 reopened after serious accident in Kittanning Township
- NCAA suspends Syracuse coach Boeheim, strips victories
- Unusual fruiting vines offer tasty options for Western Pennsylvania gardens
- Polamalu could be next in long line of Steelers greats given unceremonial exit
- Greensburg man charged with gun, drug violations
- Over the falls — Cucumber Falls that is — go 3 kayakers in Ohiopyle