Cycle crashes claim local men

BY JOSH MROZINSKI
Frank J. Valvano, 58, of Tunkhannock, was pronounced dead at the scene by Luzerne County Deputy Coroner Jeff Stock following the 10:30 a.m. crash.

Compounding the tragedy, Mr. Valvano’s wife was driving behind her husband in another vehicle.

State police at Hazleton said Agnes Singley Yencho, 82, of Oneida, was driving a 1989 Cutlass Ciera south in the area when she realized she wanted to travel north on I-81 instead. She pulled to the right berm of the highway, police said.

While Valvano was southbound in the passing lane on a 2003 Yamaha, Yencho attempted to use an emergency vehicle crossover to make a U-turn and get onto I-81 north, when she drove her vehicle across the south lanes and hit the side of the motorcycle and Valvano.

Valvano, who was wearing a helmet, was knocked to the ground and was found in the center median of the highway, police said.

Hzle Township Fire and Rescue firefighter Dave Shema said the accident happened just south of Exit 143 at Route 924. State troopers brought Valvano’s wife back to the police barracks so someone could pick her up, Shema said.

“She was pretty upset,” he said.

Firefighters helped direct traffic around the scene and cleaned up debris.

Police are still investigating and will decide whether to file charges.

Valvano was a former assistant superintendent for the Tunkhannock Area School Board, having retired from that post in 2007. He began working for the district in 1987.

Interviewed shortly before last school year ended, Valvano said he was planning to continue to work with children, and that he wanted to continue to try to be active in the Special Olympics held at Tunkhannock Area High School.

“I’m just looking to do something different,” Mr. Valvano said in May 2007. “I’m not really going to retire.”

The cycle accident came less than 24 hours after another claimed a Harveys Lake man in Eaton Township

Robert F. Stark, 48, of RR 3, Harveys Lake died on Friday afternoon, when a motor cycle he was operating crashed into a Ford Explorer, about three miles south of Tunkhannock.

According to police, Stark was operating a Harley Davidson west on Sugar Hollow Road off Route 29 when the motorcycle crossed the center line as he traveled on a curve.

At the time of the collision, Stark, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown into a stone wall adjacent to the road.

Stark man was pronounced dead at the scene by Wyoming County Coroner Thomas Kukuchka at 1:02 p.m.

The crash was witnessed by a number of people who live on the road, including Scott Barber, who said it sounded as if the motorcycle was traveling fast and had blown a tire.

The operator of the Explorer, Lisa Sholes, 38, of RR 1 Mehoopany, was not injured in the crash.

Heidi Ruckno also contributed to this story.