The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

April 10, 2013

Parents to recount tragedy of girl’s loss

EBENSBURG — Today Eric and Dana Danchanko of the Ebensburg area will relive one of the most painful experiences any parent could go through: They will tell the nation about the day their 2-year-old daughter, Autumn Lynn, was killed in the driveway of their home.

The Danchankos will be in Washington to urge the Obama administration to issue immediately the final rear visibility rule spelled out in a bipartisan bill signed into law more than five years ago.

“I’ll be asked to speak to our family’s story, but the main thing is that there is nothing that can replace her. She was taken from us,” said Eric Danchanko. “A camera or a rear sensor would have detected Autumn.”

Autumn, a petite, fair-haired toddler was taking part in a family Halloween celebration when she was killed Oct. 29, 2011, in the driveway of her home in the Winterset Road area of Cambria Township.

There had been an early snow that year and a number of people gathered at the home were outside inflating inner tubes for sled riding when Autumn ran into the driveway at the time her uncle was backing his pickup.

Autumn was struck by the pickup around 5 p.m. and she was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center at 7:13 p.m.

But Autumn is not alone.

“Fifty kids on average are hit per week in back-over crashes, two of whom die,” Eric Danchanko said.

“They actually did a re-enactment of the incident (at our home) and could see everything in the camera before it even came close to the bumper.”

The legislation, termed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in February 2008 and was enacted with strong bipartisan support from the House and Senate, said Jody Couser, representing the nonprofit Kids and Cars.

Safety and consumer groups, parents of children killed in back-over crashes and the auto industry threw their support behind it as well, Couser said.

Congress directed the administration to issue a final rule implementing the legislation by Feb. 28, 2011. But due to four delays, the regulation has yet to be issued.

Danchanko said the delays are due to considerations of the added cost.

The regulation, when issued, will apply only to new vehicles.

Accompanying the Danchankos to the nation’s capital are their children, Daric, 8, and 4-month-old Liam.

They will be joined by five other families who lost children through back-over incidents. They will be speaking at a press conference set for 1 p.m. at the House Triangle, located on the grassy triangle on the House side of the Capitol’s east front.

Also on hand will be safety industry experts along with U.S. Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

“We never thought something like this could happen. We always have a real good sense of where our kids are, but you don’t know,” Danchanko said. “The danger is real, it happens, and it can be prevented.”

Danchanko finds it incredible that with the strong emphasis on safety driving the American auto industry that rearview cameras would place so low on the priorities of some.

“Air bags, rollover protection in SUVs – those are standard features,” he said.

“They are costly, but they save lives. Why is this equipment any different?”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014

  • Local briefs 7/23/2014

    July 22, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads