Her mother knew right away that it was too late to save the teenager.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
And DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
POLAND — Days before her death, Marissa Plakosh, 18, addressed a birthday card to her mother and left it propped up on her night stand.
She attended church for one last time and donated some of her clothes to charity.
Now, three days after her death, friends and family are taking comfort in the belief that God had a plan for the Ohio State University freshman who loved sports and was voted class clown.
Police say the 2007 Poland Seminary High School graduate woke up early Saturday to find her brother visiting with a family friend. Then, about 5:50 a.m., her mother, Jeanne Plakosh, was awakened by a gunshot.
She found her daughter slumped over in a chair, shot in the neck, in the family’s great room.
The registered nurse began performing CPR, but part of her knew right away that it was too late.
“She died in my arms,” Jeanne Plakosh said. “There was nothing that could have saved her.”
Police have ruled the shooting an accident.
Daniel A. Buccino, 20, a neighbor and longtime friend of the family, is charged with negligent homicide. Charges against Buccino were reduced from felonious reckless homicide after further investigation Monday, said Poland Township police Sgt. Gary Abeid.
“It was absolutely an accidental event,” Abeid said.
Jeanne Plakosh said her son, Michael, 22 — also an Ohio State student — had purchased the 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
“They had multiple break-ins on campus,” she said. “He just felt like he wanted some protection.”
The young men were passing the gun around, believing the safety mechanism was on, she explained.
Michael “just wanted to show it to Danny,” she said.
Jeanne Plakosh said the shooting was accidental. “Danny [Buccino] would never hurt anyone,” she said.
Buccino is free on $10,000 bond pending court arraignment Wednesday.
A conviction on a first-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A conviction of a third-degree felony has a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The police report of the shooting mentioned that an officer suspected Buccino “of using alcohol,” but the Poland man was not charged with an alcohol-related offense after the matter was investigated.
In the meantime, the Plakosh family is trying to remember the happy times with their daughter, who worked out every day at the Boardman YMCA and was an avid golfer.
Her mother found the birthday card from Marissa after her death. It was full of her assurances of love.
Her mother still has her acceptance letter to Ohio State on the refrigerator. Plakosh was studying nutrition.
“Marissa came to you with both headlights on bright,” said her aunt, Diana Colaianni.
“She was a very vibrant young lady.”
The family is hoping Marissa’s story can prevent other families from knowing such a tragedy.
“Maybe somebody can learn from this,” Jeanne Plakosh said. “We know she didn’t die in vain.”