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Tragedy spurs community support

Fundraisers planned for Mozingo family

October 15, 2013
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , Weirton Daily Times

FOLLANSBEE - The family who lost a daughter and home to a natural gas explosion Friday is receiving help from many directions.

As they recover from injuries sustained in the blast and cope with the death of their daughter Hannah, George and Tracy Mozingo may find some solace in knowing there are many who care.

Friends of the Mozingos said the couple and their other daughter, Haley, continue to recuperate from the injuries they sustained, while Tyler, the Mozingos' son - who wasn't home at the time - stays with family.

Article Photos

DONATIONS COLLECTED — Members of the Follansbee Christmas in the Park Committee cut open a water cooler bottle used to collect $4,101 in cash donations for the Mozingo family, who lost their daughter and home in a gas explosion Friday. Taking part were, from left, co-chair Kathy Santoro, Nina Meca, co-chair Bill Secrist and Paul DiGiacinto. -- Warren Scott

Many local firefighters, including members of the Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department, witnessed the tragedy firsthand when they were called to the Mozingos' home on Eldersville Road and found rubble in its place.

While the explosion was something few, if any, had encountered, many of the firefighters have seen the impact the loss of a loved one or home can have on a family.

That's why West Virginia Red Knights Chapter 6, a motorcycle group of firefighters and supporters, established its Victims of Fire fund. And through it, the group is providing $1,500 to George and Tracy Mozingo, said Fred Marsh, the Red Knights' president.

Fact Box


A fund has been established at Progressive Bank for the Mozingo family. Donations may be made in care of the Mozingo family, Progressive Bank, 744 Charles St., Wellsburg, WV 26070. For information, call (304) 737-0821.

Vito's 2 in Follansbee will hold a spaghetti dinner to benefit the family from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 27. The cost is $10 per person, with takeout available.

Half of the $10 admission on Friday for the Haunted School of Terror in Weirton will go to the family also. Open from 7 p.m. to midnight, the event is held by Krazy Bout Sportz.

The group also will make a smaller donation to the Mozingos' neighbor, Jim Pannett, whose home and place of business sustained extensive damage from the blast.

The incident occurred just a day before Follansbee Christmas in the Park, an annual two-day festival at Follansbee Park that raises funds for a local food pantry, children's home and a youth with special medical needs.

Bill Secrist, who co-chairs the event with Kathy Santoro, suggested putting out a water cooler bottle for donations to the Mozingos. Santoro said she and fellow Christmas in the Park committee members thought it was a great idea.

"That's what we're about - helping others," she said.

Santoro said one civic group operating a booth at the festival challenged another to top its donation, a church group challenged another church, and many festival-goers stopped to drop bills and coins into the bottle.

But the committee members were as surprised as anyone when they found, after cutting it open, that it contained $4,101.

The schools attended by the Mozingo children also have reached out to help.

Tyler and Haley are a junior and sophomore, respectively, at Brooke High School. Hannah was in eighth grade at Follansbee Middle School.

On Friday afternoon, the high school's drama club had already scheduled the Be Festival, a new event to raise money for a scholarship to be given in memory of recent Brooke graduate Angela Casinelli.

Toni Shute, the school's principal, said a drawing for Pittsburgh Penguins tickets added at the last minute raised $400 for the family.

She added the school adopts a community service project each month. This month students were to sell pizzas to raise money for the school itself, but the money will go instead to the Mozingos, she said.

Shute said upon hearing news of the tragedy, many staff members brought in donations of cash and gift cards.

She added there also are plans to accept donations at this week's football game and to sell camouflage rubber bracelets.

The bracelets were inspired by Hannah's love of hunting, a pastime she enjoyed with her father and brother.

Kim Johnson, principal of Follansbee Middle School, said Hannah also was a cheerleader for the Follansbee city youth football league, and she's heard the players plan to wear the letter H on their helmets at their next game.

Johnson added donations also will be accepted at the school's football game against Wellsburg Middle School on Oct. 24 at Brooke High School.

She said pupils at her school have been invited to write messages to the Mozingo family on paper angels to be displayed at the school. They may make a donation but it's not required.

Johnson said several counselors from the school district were on hand Friday to help pupils trying to come to terms with Hannah's death. She said as news of the tragedy broke, many parents chose to pick up their children before the school day ended.

Johnson said counseling will continue to be available when they return to school today. Only staff reported on Monday because it was designated earlier for staff development.

Johnson said substitute teachers came in Friday afternoon to relieve Hannah's eighth-grade teachers.

Marty Bartz, assistant superintendent of schools, said substitute teachers, former school counselors and others offered their services.

"People just wanted, in any way they could, to help," Bartz said.

Jim Piccirillo, president of the Brooke County school board, said, "In my lifetime I can't recall such an outpouring of love and support, not only from Brooke County but our neighboring states and around the country, offering to help this family."

"I was fortunate to work with Weisberger's to get the young man and his father essential clothing, like boots and coats," Piccirillo said, adding more than $1,000 was donated in less than an hour for the clothing.

"This story has not ended, and I urge everyone to find a source they can use to help in every way possible. They (the Mozingos) will need your love and support for a very long time," he said.

(Scott can be contacted at

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