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Longtime friends draw inspiration from each other after tragedies

| Thursday, June 28, 2012, 8:33 a.m.
Jacqueline Dunkle and Lori McGuire are bonded through tragedy. Dunkle's son was paralyzed in a motorcycle crash and McGuire's son was killed in a crash.
Photo by Lillian DeDomenic
Jacqueline Dunkle and Lori McGuire are bonded through tragedy. Dunkle's son was paralyzed in a motorcycle crash and McGuire's son was killed in a crash. Photo by Lillian DeDomenic

Lori McGuire and Jacqueline Dunkle have much in common.

The two women are about the same age and have both owned the same salon in Plum.

The strongest bond between the women, though, is that they have lived through similar tragedies.

McGuire son, Michael Patrick "Bubba" McGuire Jr., 18, died on May 13, 2009, three weeks before his graduation from Plum High School.

Michael McGuire was tossed out of the bed of a pickup on Wildlife Lodge Road near a park entrance in Upper Burrell. The driver, Christopher Matisko, was sentenced in 2010 to five years probation after he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and 10 related offenses.

While Lori McGuire, 46, of Plum, and Dunkle, 48, of Bradford, friends for 20 years, were working through the details of transferring ownership of JaKay's Salon & Day Spa on Route 286 in Plum from Dunkle to McGuire, the women were hit with another tragedy.

Less than a year after the death of McGuire's son, Dunkle's son, Erik Fugunt, 27, was in a motorcycle crash on April 14, 2010 in Wilmington, N.C.

"She gets her call," said McGuire who said she was in disbelief that tragedy struck again.

Fugunt survived the crash but is paralyzed.

The life-changing experiences prompted Dunkle to recently write a book - "Gratitude & Grit - A Mother's Healing Journey" available on for $24.95.

In the book, Dunkle chronicles her son's accident, his recovery as a paraplegic and her healing process.

"I want to give someone else hope," Dunkle said.

Fugunt was a stunt driver and a "daredevil," according to Dunkle who said when McGuire's son was killed, she remembers thinking, ‘I dodged a bullet.'

Dunkle immediately went to North Carolina to be with her son who sustained multiple injuries, including a shattered spine that caused Fugunt's paralysis. Fugunt also twice was resuscitated.

Fugunt was hospitalized for four months after undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation.

Family members told Fugunt about a week after the accident that he was paralyzed.

Fugunt said he had an idea at the scene that he likely was paralyzed.

"I hit some debris in the road, slid off the road and hit a tree," Fugunt said. "I couldn't move."

Dunkle for four months stayed with her son, who went to live with his girlfriend and now fiancée, Jennifer Wu, 29, when he was discharged from the hospital.

When Dunkle went back home and Wu returned to work, Fugunt was on his own.

"I care for myself," Fugunt said. "I don't need outside assistance."

The couple also is moving forward with plans for the future.

Wu is expecting a baby on Dec. 29.

"I plan to be Mr. Mom," Fugunt said.

Dunkle began writing the book when she returned home in August 2010.

"The book was a cathartic exercise," she said. "It helped me through the grieving process."

McGuire has yet to read Dunkle's book but plans to do so.

"How this happened to the two of us, how this happened makes no sense," McGuire said.

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