Earth Angels: A True Story of Heroism in the Face of Tragedy

Earth Angels, published in the spring, focuses on the actions of Women’s Rugby Club members April 5, 2003, to help survivors of a multi-vehicle accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Four people died at the scene, and twenty-eight were injured. The IUP team was honored by Reader’s Digest as the 2003 Heroes of the Year and by the Pennsylvania State Police for heroism

The book also addresses the dynamics of being a member of a rugby team and issues related to women’s athletics. Sarkees is donating 20 percent of all proceeds from book sales to a foundation to advance women’s athletics.

The book offers personal insights into the families of those who died in the crash and shows how the accident significantly changed the lives of the IUP women who assisted the victims and emergency responders.

The students’ lifesaving actions were recognized throughout the region. Team members were honored July 30, 2003, by the Pennsylvania State Police with Outstanding Citizenship Awards, offered to individuals and organizations that have assisted the department in providing a significant service to the commonwealth.

The story was featured in Reader’s Digest’s “Everyday Heroes” section, which led to the rugby club members’ selection by readers as the 2003 Reader’s Digest Heroes of the Year, with 7,500 electronic votes.

Several of the students traveled to the magazine’s headquarters in New York City for a special luncheon in their honor and rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange on March 26, 2004.

Team members honored for their efforts were Ariel Baum, of Hatfield; Crystal Brenning, of Clairton; Mandy Cobb, of Wyalusing; Lauren Culley, of Chicora; Steph DeHaven, of Coatsville; Kristen Double, of Butler; Erin Harkins, of Pittsburgh; Chrissy May, of Manheim; Justine Metzger, of Willow Street; Joeylyn Miller, of Pittsburgh; Jaime Noble, of Peters Township; Molly Perchinski, of Williamsport; Karen Riedel, of Lancaster; Jess Scheetz, of Coopersburg; Jenna Sloan, of Edinboro; Rachel Stern, of Creekside; and Audra Turner, of Mercer.

Earth Angels, published by iUniverse, a self-publishing company, has received two awards from the publisher: the Rising Star award, given to a publication based on its potential for commercial success, and an Editor’s Choice award, given to a book that publishers judge to be well written.


11 thoughts on “Earth Angels: A True Story of Heroism in the Face of Tragedy

  1. I joined the IUP Women’s Rugby team the year after the accident and knowing most of the girls in the book made me so proud to call them friends and teammates.

  2. Reading a book about traumatic life experiences is never easy, especially when it’s documenting details of your own life. I am eternally grateful for Joey Lynn’s dedication, inspiration, and motivation of getting our story out to the masses- both accurately and compassionately. Joey spent a great deal of time with not only myself and teammates, but with everyone invoved in these life changing events. Joey’s attention for detail and true spirit come through while giving our story a voice. I feel as though Joey should be applauded in her success of a well written book! Though it’s still hard for me to read, it helps spread the word of not only the girls involved but the greater whole of team sports. Much love and admiration goes out to Joey Lynn Sarkees.

  3. Joey and her husband are friends of my sons. Martin went to Drexel University with Mark and Ben and they played rugby together at Drexel and afterwards for Brandywine. Joey and Marty were in my son, Mark’s, wedding. When I heard Joey wrote this book I immediately ordered it and could not put it down. It was an powerful story of courage and heroism and sadness for the victims. By the time I finished the book, I felt like I knew the rugby players. Her journalism skills in the writing of this story showed the research and heart she put into this book and the love of the game. I am honored to know this author personally.

  4. I started reading this book over the summer on the beach. Not much takes me away from relaxation while I’m on the beach but I couldn’t put this book down. Joey did an amazing job putting the reader in the shoes of these heroic women! I would recommend this book to everyone!

  5. An inspirational story about a group of women who embody the true meaning of selflessness and courage. The author did a tremendous job of meshing facts with feelings and the end result tells a story of a true account, but with a very personal touch. It is evident that she did a lot of research so that this story could be told. I commend this group of girls for what they did, as it made a huge difference to many people’s lives. Looking forward to hearing more from this new author…the awards and praise are very much deserved!!

  6. This book is such an inspiration to young athletes such as myself! I know what its like to be on a team with a group of girls. It involves lots of drama and bickering, but as soon as you step on that field together its like there’s some kind of secret pact where no matter who you are fighting with you try your best no matter what, and work together to win. The author really emphasizes how the connection between the girls helped them speak to each other without speaking and work so well together that they saved a great deal of lives. I love that aspect of the book. You can really tell that the author was an athlete herself.

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