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Late-night crash claims 2 in McCandless

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 8:23 a.m.
Michael Brunner, left, and John Richards, right, both 28 and of McCandless, died in a one-car accident late Friday, May 16, along Babcock Boulevard in McCandless.

Michael Brunner and John Richards, close friends since their middle school days in the North Allegheny School District, enjoyed golf outings and Pirate games together, their families said Saturday.

The two McCandless men died when the car they were riding in slammed into a tree late Friday. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office pronounced both men dead at the scene at 12:15 a.m. Saturday, on Richards' 28th birthday.

“He was in a really good place in his life,” Richards' mother, Valerie Richards of McCandless, said Saturday. “He was such a kind person, and really generous. He had such a good heart.”

Brunner, also 28, was driving the car that went off the road in the 9000 block of Babcock Boulevard in McCandless at 11:54 p.m. and struck the tree, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

McCandless police said they would not release additional information about the incident until Monday.

The medical examiner's office said Richards died of trauma of his head and trunk, and ruled his death accidental.

The two men had gone out to dinner Friday night with others, Richards said.

They were returning to Richards' home. Brunner lived nearby.

The accident was less than a mile from the mens' homes, said Brunner's father, Jim Brunner.

Richards and his friends, including Brunner, had planned a birthday celebration for Saturday, Valerie Richards said.

A 2013 graduate of Duquesne University with a bachelor's degree in history, Richards planned to enter law school in 2015, and was studying for the LSATs. He worked at the law firm of his father, John Richards III, helping with estates and other administrative duties.

Jim Brunner said his son had last worked as an auto mechanic at the Rahal Mercedes-Benz dealership in Shadyside nearly a year ago.

“He loved to have a good time,” Jim Brunner said of his son. “He liked sports, enjoyed the company of his friends.”

Brunner's last words to his father before he left home Friday: “See ya later,” his father said.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Saturday.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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