Best friends help each other through son's tragic accidents. Now, one has written a book.
Lori McGuire and Jacqueline Dunkle are about the same age.
They have been friends for 20 years.
The strongest bond between the women, though, may be that they have lived through similar tragedies.
McGuire's son, Michael Patrick “Bubba” McGuire Jr., 18, died on May 13, 2009, three weeks before his graduation from Plum High School.
He 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.
Less than a year after the death of McGuire's son, Dunkle's son, Erik Fugunt, 27, was paralyzed in a motorcycle crash on April 14, 2010, in Wilmington, N.C.
After Dunkle returned from helping to nurse her son, she and McGuire, 46, of Plum, supported one another with long conversations about their tragedies.
“We thought, ‘How could this happen to the two of us?' “ McGuire said, recalling a time when they sat in a car and sobbed while they talked. “How it happened made no sense.”
Dunkle, 48, of Bradford in McKean County, became inspired to write a self-published book, “Gratitude & Grit – A Mother's Healing Journey” which she is selling through Amazon.com for $24.95.
Dunkle chronicles her son's accident, his recovery as a paraplegic and her healing process.
“I want to give someone else hope,” said Dunkle, whose son's accident occurred when she was transferring ownership of JaKay's Salon & Day Spa to McGuire.
Fugunt was a stunt driver and a “daredevil,” said Dunkle, who recall thinking when McGuire's son was killed, “I dodged a bullet.”
Dunkle's son suffered multiple injuries, including a shattered spine. He had to twice be resuscitated and was hospitalized for four months, undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation.
“I hit some debris in the road, slid off the road and hit a tree,” Fugunt said. “I couldn't move.”
Dunkle stayed for four months. Her son eventually went to live with his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Wu, 29, to whom he is engaged. The couple is expecting a baby in December.
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.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.