Pennsylvania teen pleads guilty in rock-throwing case that injured teacher

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 3:10 PM

By David DeKok

LEWISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania teenager on Tuesday admitted throwing a rock at a passing car on an interstate highway, severely injuring a passenger, and faces as much as 20 years in prison.

An Ohio school teacher, Sharon Budd, 53, was struck in the head by the rock in the July 11, 2014, incident as she and her family were traveling on Interstate 80, authorities said.

Dylan Lahr, 18, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and other charges in Union County Court of Common Pleas, admitting he threw the rock off a highway overpass.

The victim's husband, Randy Budd, said the incident "completely changed our lives." He said his wife will never fully recover or return to teaching.

"It hurts and hurts," he said in court.

Budd, 54, said he had struggled with how random the attack had been.

"I've thought about the astronomical odds," he said. "I've to let that go. It could drive you crazy."

Sharon Budd, who lost the use of one eye, attended court on Tuesday wearing a protective helmet. She was accompanied by their daughter Kaylee, 20, who also was in the car at the time.

The family had been driving to New York City to see a Broadway play.

Lahr, of New Columbia, Pennsylvania, was the accused ringleader of three others charged in the assault and faces a sentence of 4-1/2 to 20 years in prison.

He also must pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined at his formal sentencing before Judge Michael Sholley later this summer.

Keefer McGee, 18, also of New Columbia, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced on Tuesday to nine to 23 months in jail.

Brett Lahr, 19, who is Dylan Lahr's brother, pleaded no contest to aggravated assault and was also sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months to 10 years in prison.

A fourth teen, Tyler Porter, 18, of Milton, has not entered a plea, according to his attorney.

(Reporting by David DeKok; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Beech)