Community mourns loss of young residents

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    SPARTA-He was a baseball player, a pretty good one, his high school coach has said. He was young, gifted and, like most 21-year-olds, couldn't wait for the best of days that lie ahead. Daniel Patrick O'Brien was also a friend to Steven P. Bieganousky, another 21-year-old. O'Brien and Bieganousky were both graduates of Sparta High School. Both were passengers in a red Acura that veered off the road, hit an embankment and went airborne before coming to a stop after hitting a tree on Sparta-Stanhope Road near Helen Morgan School early Easter Sunday morning. Both eventually died; Bieganousky a few hours later at Newton Memorial Hospital, O'Brien, the driver, a week ago Friday at Morristown Memorial Hospital, from injuries sustained in the accident. Family, friends and the Sparta community have spent the past two weeks mourning their loss -- one right after the other; one no more than the other. Funeral services were held for Bieganousky, April 1, at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Sparta, on the same day that his friend and classmate was pronounced dead. Friends and family members remembered Bieganousky as a talented athlete, too, and a hard-working young adult who loved children, music and spending time with friends. Bieganousky was a 2001 graduate of Sparta High School, where he was a running back and receiver on the football team and midfielder on the lacrosse team. He also was a goaltender on the Jefferson ice hockey team. The two Sparta residents involved in the crash had remained friends following high school. Bieganousky was working for a mold remediation firm before his death. Bieganousky, who was born in Pompton Plains, Aug. 7, 1983, is survived by his parents, Ann Taggart Morsch, and her husband, Richard, of Tampa, Fla., and Steven R. and his wife, Deborah, of Sparta; his grandparents, Joan Taggart, of Bloomingdale, and Frank and Marion, of Pompton Lakes; five stepsiblings, Miranda, Ian, Jacqueline, Robert and David, as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins. Funeral services were held Wednesday for O'Brien, who was born at Newton Memorial Hospital, Jan. 17, 1984. O'Brien graduated from Sparta High School in 2002, where he played baseball, football and basketball. He was also a member of the DECCA Team at Sparta and played American Legion baseball in the U.S. and South American Games. O'Brien was also a certified scuba diver and expert motocross rider. O'Brien attended Seton Hall University, from 2002-2004. He was on the hiring list for a position with the Los Angeles Police Department at the time of his death. O'Brien is survived by his parents, Deborah and Richard, of Sparta; his sisters, Christine Mase, and her husband, Jeff, of Sparta, and Elizabeth, of Los Angeles; his grandmother, Virginia Susan, of Streator, Ill., and two nephews and one niece. Funeral arrangements for both Bieganousky and O'Brien were by the Goble Funeral Home, in Sparta.