NEWTON HAMILTON - Firefighters, emergency medical personnel and coroners across the region are mourning the loss of Huntingdon County Coroner Ronald E. Morder, who died in a one-vehicle crash Monday afternoon in Mifflin County.
Morder, 44, of Mount Union was driving a garbage truck for Park's Garbage Service Inc. of Mount Union when he attempted to make a sharp right-hand turn about 12:50 p.m. on Little Greenbriar Road. State police at Lewistown said the truck went off the road for an unknown reason, hit a tree and overturned.
Morder and his passenger and co-worker, Harold K. Knable, 44, of Newton Hamilton died from blunt force trauma, said Mifflin County Coroner Daniel P. Lynch, who pronounced both men dead at the scene.
"This is a tragic loss," Lynch said. "He lived his job and served the people of Huntingdon County. My heart goes out to his family and friends. When something like this happens, it really hits home."
Morder was re-elected to a second term in the 2007 municipal election by a 71 to 30 percent margin. Morder was a deputy Huntingdon County coroner until he was named acting coroner in 2003 prior to his election.
"I will think of him with very high esteem," Huntingdon County Commissioner R. Dean Fluke said. "He was conscious of different ways he could save the county money. I think he did a very good job as coroner."
Morder was a common, ordinary person, Fluke said.
"I considered him a personal friend," he said. "He was a likable individual. Ronald was a family guy."
"My heart goes out to Ron's family and friends," Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic said. "He always worked well with my office and this is a tragic loss to Huntingdon County."
Morder was a "good family man," a "hard worker" and a "simple plain guy" who wasn't into the politics of his elected position as coroner, Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross said.
Morder would take his family to state coroners' conferences, said Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski, secretary/ treasurer of the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association.
"It became sort of a family affair. He seemed close to his family," Kwiatkowski said.
County coroners help each other, and Morder was no different, Ross said.
"He always cooperated with all the counties around him," she said.
Morder was an active member of the Mount Union Volunteer Fire Company, and Knable was a member of the Newton-Wayne Volunteer Fire Company.
Crews from Mount Union, McVeytown and Newton-Wayne volunteer fire companies; Huntingdon Regional Fire and Rescue Company 65; and Mount Union ambulance responded to the scene.
State police are continuing their investigation.
Staff writers Amanda Clegg and Mark Leberfinger contributed to this story.