HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The husband of a woman who suffered brain damage when teenagers dropped a rock from an interstate overpass onto their car often cried at night, asking why he was spared from harm but she wasn’t, a friend said Tuesday, days after his suicide.
Jeff Farrow recalled how deeply devoted Randy Budd was to his wife of 33 years, Sharon, and how difficult it was for him to see her suffer. The attack in July 2014 on a central Pennsylvania highway did considerable damage to Sharon Budd’s skull and brain and caused the Ohio teacher to lose her right eye.
“I saw him after they came home from the hospital,” Farrow said. “He would try to wind down and just cry and cry and cry and say, ‘I can’t believe this happened to my Sharon. Why couldn’t it have been me?'”
Randy Budd died Saturday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 55, and the couple had four children.
“The poor man, he suffered for so long,” Farrow said. “God love him, he went a long time hurting and suffering. You know, we’re human and we can only take so much — that’s my opinion.”
Farrow and his husband, who run a cleaning business near a hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, where Sharon Budd was taken after the attack, saw a news report about it and offered Randy Budd a free place to live.
They banded together with a small legion of friends, family and volunteers to help the Budds, organize fundraisers and provide moral support.
Four Pennsylvania teens pleaded guilty or no contest to various offenses for participating in the dead-of-night attack on a remote stretch of Interstate 80.
The prosecutor in the case, Union County District Attorney Pete Johnson, told Pennlive.com this week that he sees a link between the rock attack and Randy Budd’s death inside his home in Uniontown, Ohio.
“Randy Budd did not die from a gunshot,” Johnson said. “He died when those kids threw a rock through his windshield.”
The young men, who were 17 and 18 years old at the time of the attack, were given minimum sentences of a year to 4½ years behind bars and will be on probation after their release. Messages left for defense lawyers and at the defendants’ homes weren’t returned Tuesday.
Police said the rock throwing was part of a day of troublemaking that included stealing steaks, breaking a neighbor’s window and driving through a cornfield.
Sharon Budd was a front-seat passenger in an SUV driven by their daughter, on their way to see a show in New York, when the rock crashed through the windshield.
At a sentencing last summer, Sharon Budd, who taught language arts at a middle school, said her “heart went out” to the defendants.
“I think back to when I was 17, I didn’t always make the best decisions,” she said.
Farrow said he never heard Randy Budd criticize the defendants.
“He truly loved everybody,” Farrow said. “He never said anything ill about those kids, never ever, to me. I never met such a positive man. All he wanted was for Sharon to get better.”
They spoke most recently last week, making plans for Farrow and his husband to visit the Budds this coming weekend. Randy Budd didn’t know they were part of a wider surprise family reunion in the works.
Randy Budd sent him a text the night before his suicide, telling the couple he loved them — the sort of thing he did all the time.
“If you ask me why, in my opinion, this happened, I’m going to tell you that Randy lost Sharon when this happened, and when he lost Sharon, he lost his life,” Farrow said. “Because Sharon was his life — every single thing — for him.”
A memorial service for Budd has been scheduled for Friday evening at Paquelet Funeral Home in Massillon, Ohio.
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