A 20-year-old driver who police said was distracted by her iPod yesterday struck two young women - best friends - who had just walked out of Delaware County Memorial Hospital, killing one.
Archbishop Prendergast High School staffers preparing for the fall term heard the commotion and later learned the two were former students at the school.
Nicole Gallo, 19, of Clifton Heights, and Christine Bochanski, 20, of Lansdowne, left the hospital at 11:15 a.m. and were struck from behind by the car, said Michael J. Chitwood, Upper Darby police superintendent.
Gallo was killed instantly; Bochanski was stabilized at the hospital and then transferred to Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Chitwood said she was in "extremely critical condition."
The driver, Rachel Jankins of Havertown, was treated for minor injuries at Delaware County Memorial, he said.
Chitwood said no charges had been filed but the investigation continued.
According to police, Jankins was heading south on Lansdowne Avenue when she lost control of her 2003 Hyundai Accent, crossed two lanes of traffic, traveled up onto the sidewalk for 30 feet, and struck the women. The car became trapped between a large tree and a brick wall. There were no skid marks, police said.
"Her claim is, she was reaching down for the iPod, wasn't paying attention, and lost control of the car," Chitwood said. He called the accident "a tragedy that happened because of stupidity and inattentive driving."
Gallo was a 2008 graduate of Prendergast, and was a member of the Lebanon Valley College track and field team last year as a freshman.
Bochanski, also a 2008 Prendergast graduate, was a cheerleader and on the student council while at the Delaware County school.
The news spread quickly through the Prendergast community as former and current students texted one another, principal William Brannick said.
"It hit us like a ton of bricks," said Brannick, who was still trying to reach some members of the staff. He said the two women were involved in a number of activities while at the school.
Anthony Carr, Prendergast's track coach, said he heard the news while training with the team at a camp in New Jersey.
"In the four years [Gallo] was on our track team, she always showed up with a smile on her face," he said.
Gallo was not tall, but never let that deter her from being a quality hurdler, he said, adding, "She was a hurdler from Day One."
"Our girls right now are having a difficult time," Carr said, noting that many current athletes had known Gallo and Bochanski since grade school. He said they planned to go to a nearby church to pray for both women.
Gallo "was a very hardworking, very conscientious student athlete, just the kind of kid you want on your campus," said Rick Beard, director of athletics at Lebanon Valley. "We are deeply saddened by this news. It is tragic."