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Mourners feel for Brendan Danes; lost parents in crash

Published: Wed, September 26, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


Jamie, left, and Emily Danes were killed Friday in a car accident in Newton Township. This photo shows them after their wedding.




There’s an empty desk at The Cadle Co. on Center Street where Emily Danes worked for seven years.

Co-workers on Tuesday were in shock from the 29-year-old’s sudden death in a car accident Friday night.

What strikes them most is the loss 8-year-old Brendan Danes has suffered because of the death of his mother and father.

Emily’s husband, Jamie, 37, also died in the 10:30 p.m. crash on South Canal Street in Newton Township.

The couple lived in Paris Township, which is just over the Trumbull County line in Portage County.

“She was just a loving mother. She dedicated every minute of her nonworking hours to her family,” said Denise Harkless, who worked side by side with Emily the past three years.

“She was very involved with her son and the youth, because she volunteered for everything. Every weekend, she had something going on,” Harkless said.

“She looked beautiful Friday, dressed up and excited to go to dinner with her husband,” Harkless said. “She was excited about going to a movie.”

The couple was going out to celebrate their wedding anniversary, which was Monday.

“She was also going to pick up decorations for their son’s birthday party, which was going to be Sunday,” Harkless said.

The couple drove to Niles for dinner at O’Charley’s Restaurant and a movie. They were headed home when their 2005 Chevrolet Impala was struck head-on by a vehicle driven by Paul J. Wodianka, 42, of Mahoning Avenue in Diamond, just east of Lake Milton.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the speed Wodianka was traveling appears to have contributed to the crash.

Wodianka’s vehicle crossed the center lane into the path of the Danes’ vehicle, the patrol said.

Wodianka, who has a lengthy driving record in various Mahoning County courts, including two drunken-driving convictions, was tested “to confirm if Mr. Wodianka was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs of abuse,” the patrol said.

Wodianka, who was taken from the scene by ambulance, remained in critical condition Tuesday in St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Melanie Patchin, who knew Emily well from having worked beside her several years ago, said Emily would have been “the first person to step up” to help a child left without parents, like her son is now.

The Cadle Co., which is a loan-collection company, is joining Jamie’s employer, Rulli Brothers of Austintown, in contributing to a bank account established for Brendan. It’s called the Brendan J. Danes Benefit Account. Contributions will be received at any Cortland Bank location.

“You couldn’t ask for a better person, a better mother. I can’t say enough about her because she’s just one of those people that everybody likes, and she would never say anything bad about anyone,” Harkless said.

“She’s going to be very missed. Her son, I feel so bad. He loved his mother.”

According to the Mahoning County courts, Wodianka has been charged in the area courts in Austintown, Canfield and Boardman 12 times since August 1996, when he was charged by Lake Milton police with operating a motor vehicle impaired.

His first drunken-driving conviction, also resulting from a Lake Milton arrest, was in July 2000, but he had another one resulting from a January 2004 arrest in Austintown.

An OVI charge was reduced to failing to maintain physical control in 2008 after Wodianka hit a guardrail on state Route 62 in Canfield. Police said his speech was slow and slurred after the accident.

He was charged with his third OVI offense in March 2011 after an Oct. 10, 2010, arrest on New Road in Austintown. A police officer observed Wodianka’s red pickup truck crossing the solid yellow line several times and later found Wodianka to be in possession of several types of prescription medication.

He was convicted on a drug charge, but the OVI was dismissed.


1k9girl2223(19 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I feel so sorry for this little boy. My heart aches for him. I have to say though what is wrong with our court systems? This monster that killed his parents should be either in jail for all his DUI's or have no driving rights. My thoughts and prayer are with this little boy.....

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2picturethis(18 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

So sad that this little guy has to live the rest of his childhood looking up at the stars every time he has a major event. You all know the losses he will endure: Sports, dances, his driver's license, turning 16 then 18 then prom and graduation. He has his entire life to "miss" them. As for the drunk driver: This man needs to be punished to the fullest extent. The law couldn't protect them, the courts owe it to the family now! One more thing: Maybe the judges should be held accountable for not rendering the appropriate punishment for a repeat offender???? Maybe then they would dish out more than a little slap. For Brendan: All I can say is to enjoy your life, your mom and dad would have wanted that. No judgement here, because I truly believe when it's your time to go, it's your time, but a reminder people: Wear a seatbelt. It's easy.

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3Sumpintasay(55 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Why is it the courts wait until these people with "lengthy driving records" kill someone before they decide to do something about it?

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4kensgirl(1056 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

This guy needs life in prison now for the lives he took. I hope there are relatives who can take over the care of this little boy. If not I'm sure there are a lot of people who would step up. God bless the souls of his mother and father.

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5DaveA(5 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

As a Police Officer for the City of Canfield back in the late 60's to the late 80's, I could never get a conviction in any of DWI or OVI cases in Mayor's Court.

They were always reduced to reckless operation or failure to control.

I always felt good about the arrest I did in the DWI cases and getting the driver off the streets. The Court failed the system.

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6Attis(1128 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Wodianka should be charged with two first-degree murders and every driver who gets behind the wheel of a car drunk should be charged with attempted murder. Maybe that will finally stop or at least reduce the slaughter on our highways by drunk drivers.

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7cambridge(4055 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago


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8Bassets3(3 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

My prayers go to this little guy. I understand it is the law to wear a seat belt. I have had one on everytime I was hit by two drunk drivers and have had to have 3 major surgerys. No matter what this scum should have not had been allowed to drive at all. It is also aganist the law to drink and drive. God bless this family.

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9comeonpeople(5 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Ianacek: Seatbelts could have saved them, mamed them or not made a difference in the outcome. The point is it doesn't matter, this guy killed them and should have been punished years ago for his past offenses. He should have never been on the road in the first place.

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10Sumpintasay(55 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

@DaveA~ thank you for trying to keep us all safe by taking these selfish losers off the road. It's a shame that scumbag lawyers plead the offenses down and it's a shame prosecuters go along with it and its a shame judges allow it so that they can go out there and repeat their offense until they kill innocent people. This is such a tragedy.

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11hypmon(1 comment)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I know this isn't feasible, but this man should be required to financially support this child, including putting him through college.

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12walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

As a former police officer, you should know why the charges were reduced. Money. DUI or OVI would be transferred to Common Pleas Court and the Mayor's Court or District Court would lose out on their court fees. That was standard procedure for first time DUI;reduction to reckless operation with a large fined negotiated by your lawyer. This was one of the reasons MADD was formed.

This is such a tragedy that it hurts to even think about it. As for seatbelts, there is no saying if it would have saved lives here. But, it is physics that says you are better off being strapped down to the vehicle than to be a projectile inside of it, especially with the safety engineering used in the design of newer vehicles. They saved my life once and I always wear them.

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13proudmommyof1(6 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I feel so bad for their son. This is so sad. They were going to have a good night to celebrate their love and this happens. What are people thinking when they drink and drive. Even if this idiot did get his drivers license taken away, people like him continue to drive. These poor families and their poor son God be with them.

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14nojimbo(286 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I always wish the reporters on stories like this would interview the judge who has reduced the sentence of a 4 or 5 or 6 time loser to "time served" and then gone on to kill someone. In this case Judge D'Apolito. I know a fine was imposed and car locks installed. Everything but a lengthy jail sentence. http://courts.mahoningcountyoh.gov/ then click on Mahoning County Public Access and enter the defendant's full name.

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15kurtw(1758 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The only way to stop- or at least curb this carnage- is to build cars with a breathalyzer built into the ignition system. You blow into it and if you fail, the car won't start. Its that simple.

As far as defeating the system, I think Ohio needs to adopt mandatory yearly vehicle inspection as in Pa. That way if the breathalyzer/ignition system has been tampered with it would become immediately apparent. and a: the offending driver would lose his/her license and b: the car would be impounded.

There is no way to stop a drunk (no matter how much you punish them) in possession of a motor vehicle from driving. It can't be done. The only effective way (other than shooting them) is the method suggested above.

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