The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 23, 2013

‘RIPE FOR DISASTER’

How joy ride ended in tragedy

REVLOC — Paul “P J” Taylor jumped on the two-seat all-terrain vehicle of a friend and headed out on a path near Revloc on June 1.

He was doing something thousands of riders in the region will do this summer, something law enforcement and conservation officials wish they could stop.

Taylor, 23, of Mineral Point, a well-liked Central Cambria High School graduate, was celebrating the 40th birthday of a friend in Cambria Township when an acquaintance, Brianna Rose Fox, wanted to go for a ride on a Polaris Razor ATV brought to the party by another friend.

This seemingly innocuous act ended Taylor’s life and resulted in a harrowing night for Fox.

Some have termed what happened that night as the perfect – or maybe not-so–perfect – storm of events.

“The situation was ripe for disaster,” Cambria County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Lees said.

Taylor and Fox were riding the ATV on an old railroad line.

Unused for decades, with the steel rails removed, the trail sits idle as the property of the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority as the group looks for money to transform it into a recreation trail for nonmotorized use.

Rose was wearing the safety harness on the passenger side of the two-seater, but no helmet.

Taylor, a coal miner for Amfire Mining LLC, was not wearing a helmet nor was he wearing the driver’s side safety harness.

An experienced ATV rider, Taylor had sold his quad more than a year ago.

On the night that he died, his blood-alcohol level was 0.8 percent, according to information provided by Lees, which is right at the limit to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania.

Over the edge

The Pennsylvania State Police report says Taylor was driving along the railway, once used by the now defunct Cambria and Indiana Railroad, when things went bad.

The undeveloped trail, which includes a worn and rotted wooden bridge, was probably known to the driver, but not very well, according to his father, Paul Taylor, of Swigle Mountain.

“He probably rode it before, but it probably had been a while,” the father said.

There were plenty of indications that the closed trail had been used by more then PJ Taylor and his passenger. Someone had even placed a tin strip about 3 feet in diameter across a rotted section of the bridge, Lees said.

It is believed that the tin buckled when the ATV crossed it, causing the vehicle to tip on its side then over and into the stream bed, Lees said.

“The ATV fell 14 feet into Williams Creek, where the water was 2 to 3 feet high,” Lees said.

Without a safety harness, Taylor had little chance of surviving the accident.

“Upon impact, Taylor was thrown under the vehicle,” Lees said.

Taylor sustained massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by Lees, while Fox was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown with what was described as moderate injuries.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • District Deaths July 31, 2014

    July 30, 2014

  • Smaller payout to seniors urged

    State Lottery officials say less means more for seniors.

    July 29, 2014

  • Portage ambulance aid will add portable CPR device, other tools

    Federal funding awarded to Portage Area Ambulance Association will soon put “a third man” alongside their two-person crews when emergencies occur, ambulance operations manager Edward Nelson said.

    July 29, 2014

  • paint_twp building Paint Township considers offering part of building for rent

    Four years after Paint Township built an addition at the Basin Drive building to house its growing police department, much of the new space likely will be offered for rent this fall because the township supervisors say it's no longer needed.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old Rockwood hotel will soon be history

    The historic – but dilapidated – Merchants Hotel in Rockwood is expected to be razed soon.
    On Tuesday, Somerset County’s three commissioners unanimously agreed to a demolition plan for the building, which was constructed in the 1880s. The arrangement calls for a private citizen, William Nair, to tear down the structure at 703 Main St. in exchange for being allowed to keep any salvageable materials.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 30, 2014

  • ATV blast ready to roll at Rock Run

    Organizers are keeping the spirit of the Fisher’s ATV Reunion at Rock Run Recreation Area alive despite losing the support of the award-winning Outdoor Channel TV show “Fisher’s ATV World.” Now called the Rock Run ATV Summer Blast, the event will continue to offer demonstration rides, motor competitions, product vendors, live music, camping and trail riding.

    July 29, 2014

  • Culvert 1 Preservationists use age-old method at historic site

    Preservation work on two historic culverts associated with the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site has been completed. The culverts were reconstructed using a variety of techniques, including dry stone masonry, which was used to build the culverts more than 180 years ago.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 7/30/2014

    July 29, 2014

  • Officer, civilian motorist injured in crash

    A Johnstown police officer who was responding to an emergency and one other driver were taken to the hospital after they were injured in a three-vehicle accident around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday on Railroad Street at the intersection with Clinton Street and Church Avenue.
    The Johnstown Fire Department said that the three occupants of the third vehicle were not injured.
     

    July 29, 2014

Poll

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
House Ads