- Story Ideas
- Send Corrections
The following is Part 4 of a 4 part series: an urban legend tied to the painted rock in the Schuylkill River. The story was created solely by Jimmy Ettele.
Through the darkness and silence of her disabled car, Anna tried to gain control of her breathing.
She managed to ask, between panicked breaths, “David?”
The lights in the car immediately turned back on. The engine revved back to life and the radio, although Anna had turned it down earlier, loudly echoed off the Vega’s doors. The passenger side door of the Chevy was open and David was gone.
“David? David!” Anna’s heart felt as if it was going to come out of her chest. The boy she had picked up was not answering her. She reached across to the passenger seat to look to see if he was next to the car. The seat was soaking wet and smelled like river water.
Anna opened her door and got out of her car to go around to the other side to find David, she was still shaking. When she made her way around the car she was sure David was going to be lying on the ground. Hurt. Possibly dead.
There was nothing. No sign of him anywhere. She went to the back of the car and to the driver’s side. Nothing. She looked over the 4’ high cement barrier separating the east and west bound lanes. She called out for him and got no reply. It was hard to see anything that dark August night.
She crossed over the barrier without looking for oncoming traffic. Her body was running on fear, adrenaline, and reflex. David was nowhere to be found. No signs of him. In an effort to stop her hands from shaking, Anna grabbed a hold of the bridge barrier that overlooked the Schuylkill River on the westbound lane. Through the pitch of the dark night, when nothing else could be seen, Anna saw the rock that sat in the middle of the Schuylkill River.
Anna would get her senses back enough to make it home with her crippled car. She didn’t stop shaking until well after she had told her story to her parents and then to the police. Both her parents and the police were comforting but disbelieving of her story. Anna would eventually put the incident behind her; convinced by her parents and police she had fallen asleep at the wheel and only dreamt of ‘David’ but she would come to learn about a boy who presumably drowned at the rock in 1972. A boy named David Weidner. Anna would never be so sure she fell asleep at the wheel after that. She also never drove on the bypass alone, at night, again. Even to this day.
This was not the last time David Weidner would be seen on the West Shore Bypass. In August of 1983, Marie Pugliese crashed her Ford Fairmont into the bridge barrier at the Schuylkill River as she made her way home from a concert. She had picked up who she thought was a hitchhiker on the bypass minutes before the crash. She told police she picked up a teenage boy in running shorts and a tee shirt. Marie told them the boy told her his name was David. The rest of her story was almost identical to the report Anna Martin gave 2 years prior. This happened again in 1984, ‘86, and lastly in ‘89. Each time, it was August, late at night, the drivers were alone in their cars and each time, they had picked up a teenage boy named David in shorts, tee shirt, and muddy running shoes. Each time the driver’s ended up crashing in to the barrier of the bridge overlooking the rock in the Schuylkill River. Each time, David had disappeared.
No stories about David Weidner came up again after 1989 or at least none were spoken aloud about him. And ironically, 1989, the year a teenager named David had last been seen wandering the West Shore Bypass was also the same year when the rock in the Schuylkill River was first painted in Exeter’s school colors or for David, maybe finally, painted.
*The story of was originally published on the COAL website at www.coal-co.com.
Jimmy Ettele is an Exeter Township Dad, husband and writer of the blog Founding a Father. Email him at foundingafather.com