Officials are still trying to piece together circumstances leading to the death of a veteran firefighter hit by a freight train in North Versailles. Edwin J. Wentzel, 57, of Youngwood was struck from behind by a Norfolk Southern train around 5:46 p.m. Saturday while helping search for a missing woman, Ruth Mullennix of Wilmerding.
Mr. Wentzel was declared dead of trauma at 6:11 p.m., the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said.
A 35-year member of Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department, Mr. Wentzel was working with a K-9 crew near the Westinghouse Bridge when, according to a KDKA-TV report from its on-site photographer, Bryce Lutz, "he walked up onto the tracks, and he didn't see the train coming."
The two-locomotive train had 85 cars and was traveling east to Altoona.
Mr. Wentzel, who often went by his childhood nickname of "Lance," was named Youngwood's firefighter of the year two years ago, and had served as captain and assistant chief.
Mr. Wentzel is survived by his wife, Judy, and four sons: Christopher Wentzel, Jeremy Wentzel, Justin Vestrand and Jason Vestrand.
Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at C. Richard McCauley Funeral Home, 104 S. Fourth St., Youngwood.
Firefighters are to pay their respects during the Wednesday evening session and at the funeral at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Science Hall auditorium at Westmoreland County Community College, 145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood.
Written by Maria Sciullo