Kaitlyn Rosensteel photo

Courtesy of Ringgold

Kaitlyn Rosensteel

A Donora teen was one of two young people struck and killed by lightning Thursday at a Westmoreland County park.

Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth A. Bacha said Kaitlyn E. “Moe” Rosensteel of Chestnut Street and Brendan A. McGowan of Eastview Drive, North Huntingdon Township, were killed while fishing at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant Township. Both victims were 18 years old.

Witnesses said they heard a loud crack about 4 p.m. and saw a large flash of light in the area of a lake where the victims were fishing, Bacha said.

They also discovered the victims under a large splintered tree at the lake off 254 County Park Road, he said.

Deputy Coroner Jonathon Jenkins pronounced both dead at the scene shortly after 5 p.m.

The victims suffered injuries consistent with being struck by lightning, Bacha said. Autopsies were to be conducted Friday by Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.

The official cause and manner of the deaths are pending.

Rosensteel was a member of the Beadling Soccer Club, where she was coached for many years by Rob Fabean, also of Donora.

“She’s an absolutely phenomenal kid,” Fabean said.

“Everyone liked her and wanted to be around her,” he said.

He said she met McGowan when her family lived in the Irwin area and the two attended Greensburg Central Catholic High School. McGowan had just graduated from that school, where he was an honors student.

Olivia Wilkerson, who coaches the girls soccer team at Ringgold, said the district’s soccer community is devastated by the tragedy. She said Rosensteel was an excellent player.

“It was fun to watch and more of an honor to coach her,” Wilkerson said. “She was a great, great girl.”

She was a daughter of Ed and Shelley Rosensteel, Fabean said. Both are employed at the Monongahela Valley Hospital, and local friends and coworkers have donated to a fundraising site to cover expenses. The GoFundMe page can be located by searching for Kaitlyn “Moe” Rosensteel.

She was a 2019 graduate of Ringgold High School, and a member of its soccer team. She also planned to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon in the fall.

Ringgold issued a statement Friday on its website about having school social workers and counselors available from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday and Monday at the high school.

“It is with great sadness that we share we tragically lost a member of our Ringgold Rams High School Class of 2019. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family and friends,” the district said.

Meanwhile, the deaths prompted the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh to issue a warning for people to go indoors or into a vehicle with its windows up if they see a thunderstorm approaching.

The service said in a tweet that an average of 30 people die each year in the United States from lightning strikes. The deaths Thursday bring that number to four this year in the nation.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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