Fundraisers to help fireman's family in tragedy

Jun. 20—Lawrence County firefighters are grieving the loss of one of their own.

A motorcycle accident Saturday claimed the life of 49-year-old Travis Bintrim Sr. of Scott Township, who had served the Slippery Rock Township Volunteer Fire Department as a volunteer for more than 30 years and had been a volunteer fireman in Scott Township for at least the past three years.

Bintrim's youngest son, Brayden, 14, was riding the back of his bike and suffered serious injuries in the accident. He was flown to UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and reportedly remains hospitalized there in stable condition in the intensive care unit with a broken pelvis, broken arm and broken leg and multiple other broken bones and injuries.

Since the tragedy, people in the Laurel community and beyond are coming up with ways to raise funds to make the tragedy more bearable for the Bintrim family.

According to a state police report, Bintrim's Harley-Davidson was struck by a Nissan Rogue that had veered into the eastbound lane on Harlansburg Road in Scott Township. Bintrim and his son were thrown from the bike, police reported. Brayden was wearing helmet but his father was not, police said.

The driver of the car, Gail Newtzie, 76, of New Castle and her passenger, Catherine Jennings, 72, were transported by ambulance to UPMC Jameson with minor injuries. Police said charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.

Bintrim's namesake son, Travis Bintrim Jr., 21, also is a member of the Scott Township Volunteer Fire Department.

A group of firefighters and their wives are planning a ziti dinner from noon to 7 p.m. July 30 at the Scott Township firehall on Route 108 to benefit the Bintrim family, and the countywide support they are getting is immeasurable, according to Brittani Taylor Rodgers, wife of Scott's Assistant Chief Phillip Rodgers, who is helping to plan the event.

Tickets for the dinner will be available at the door only and any and all donations will be accepted. A basket raffle also will be part of the event to help raise funds. The proceeds will go to lessen the load of the funeral expenses, the inevitable drives back and forth to Pittsburgh for Brayden and any medical expenses.

Within a few hours of the dinner details having been posted on Facebook, more than 300 people had shown their intent on attending, Brittani said.

Bintrim was well known among fire departments countywide, and many of them were at the accident scene on Saturday, she said.

Brian Hervatine of New Castle worked with the elder Bintrim for Mele & Mele & Sons, a construction company in Braddock. He said he was shocked and saddened at losing his coworker and longtime friend.

"I knew Travis my entire life and worked with him every day. We dealt with work issues and talked on a daily basis, for the past five years," he said. He characterized Bintrim as "the most outgoing, easygoing person. He was always concerned for everybody else. He was always there for his family and friends at the drop of a hat. We'd hang out, outside of work, and he was always there for his kids and grandkids, going to their sporting events and supporting them. That was his life, work and family," Hervatine said. "It's terrible."

Hervatine is not involved with the fire department but said he plans to be involved in the fundraiser as much as he can.

Bintrim leaves behind his wife, four children and two grandchildren. His daughter, Taylor Wetzel, is a strong figure in the Laurel community, Brittani said. Wetzel works in the Laurel School District cafeteria and is well known among the children there, she said. Bintrim's 17-year-old daughter, Kayci, is a student at Laurel High School.

Wetzel in a Facebook post wrote on the site "You're in Spartan Country" that if anyone would like to send Brayden a card, he is in ICU room 522 in Children's Hospital.

"We are asking for continued prayers, as he has a long recovery ahead," she said. The site has access to send a card through UPMC Send-A-Card or online at ecards.upmc.com.

Another family friend, Kari Gerkey, has organized a GoFundMe page under the title "Funeral Expenses for Travis Bintrim," with a goal of raising $5,000 toward Bintrim's funeral expenses. As of Monday afternoon, the site had raised commitments of at least $4,460.

Organizing the dinner event with Rodgers are Lucy Villani, Amanda Priscilla and Kaili Sallmen.

The event came about because "we're wanting to help out as much as we possibly can, and that is where we started," Rodgers said, adding, "If I had to tell you how many people have reached out ... The entire Laurel Chapter of Girl Scouts reached out, and more than 200 people are asking to help."

The Scott Township fire department has about 40 members, including active firefighters and social members who assist with funding events.

"We're getting support from other firefighters too, including Hickory, Princeton and Portersville," she said.

When they told Bintrim's son, Travis, what was being planned, "he told us that he loves us," she said.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com