UNIONTOWN, OHIO – Randy Budd died Saturday from a self-inflicted gunshot, an Ohio official said. His wife Sharon got severe head injuries after four teens in Union County threw rocks at her from an overpass in 2014.
Randy Budd, who spent the past two years caring for his wife, Sharon, and fighting to make sure highway overpasses safer, died Saturday.
Rick Bannister, a longtime family friend, confirmed Randy Budd’s passing to The Canton Repository.
There have been more than a hundred social media posts expressing condolences to the Budd family on his passing.
The family released a statement Sunday afternoon to The Repository.
“The Budd family are all together and are grieving the loss of their dad, husband and brother. We deeply appreciate the tremendous support our family has received from the Massillon, Canton and Hartville areas over the past several years. We ask for your prayers and some privacy as we deal with our loss.”
Bannister said the family did not wish to further comment and asked for privacy. The Stark County Coroner’s Office said the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Budd was about a month shy of his 56th birthday. He was a graduate of Washington High School. Randy and Sharon celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary about six weeks ago. Randy often pointed out, though, they dated for five years before getting married.
Sharon Budd was nearly killed in 2014 when teenagers threw a 5-pound rock off a Pennsylvania highway overpass and into the car carrying Randy, Sharon and their daughter Kaylee. The rock struck Sharon, who was in the front passenger seat, in the face.
She underwent numerous surgeries, including procedures to remove part of her right frontal lobe and parts of her left. Those are part of the brain that controls a person’s vocabulary filter. Sharon, a breast cancer survivor and former teacher in Perry Local Schools, has had facial reconstructive surgeries as well.
Randy, Sharon and Kaylee were driving from Stark County to New York City to see “Mama Mia.” Shortly before midnight, Randy pulled off Interstate 80 to switch drivers because he was getting tired. He went to the back seat, and Kaylee took over driving, with Sharon sitting in the front passenger’s seat.
Soon after, the rock hit the windshield and struck Sharon in the face.
Randy recalled the incident in an interview when Sharon was chosen as the person of the year for About Magazine, a publication of The Repository’s parent company, GateHouse Ohio Media.
“Sharon started choking,” Randy Budd said. “The only way she could get a breath in — and you could hear her gargling on blood — the only way she could breath was through her head.
“I will never forget that night, and neither will Kaylee.”
Sharon Budd was in a coma for weeks. Her neurosurgeon at Geisinger Medical Center, Dr. Atom Sarkar, performed five surgeries.
Four teenagers — Dylan Lahr; his brother, Brett Lahr; Keefer McGee; and Tyler Porter — were all charged in the case, and eventually sentenced to jail terms of varying lengths. Dylan Lahr, who emerged as the leader of the group, received the harshest prison term of 54 months to 24 years. He later appealed that sentence, a decision that didn’t sit well with Randy Budd.