Tyrone blast survivor dies
Family: Illnesses stemming from July explosion contributed to Patterson’s death
It’s been five months since a gas leak explosion and fire in Tyrone killed an 83-year-old woman, but a family says the incident claimed a second victim last week.
Ed Patterson was rescued from the fire in his wheelchair. His obituary in Tuesday’s Mirror attributes his death at 69 to “illness stemming from the house fire on July 26.”
Blair County Coroner Patty Ross learned on Tuesday about the linking of Patterson’s death to the fire and has begun an investigation to determine whether she should add his name to that of Anna Hunsicker as a fatality from the incident, which occurred after a contractor’s augur pierced a gas line, she said in a phone interview.
“He got another chance of life” only to have it end six months later, said Nate Verilla, one of four people who received plaques a couple of weeks ago from Tyrone Borough Council for rescuing Patterson.
Patterson had “multiple problems after the fact,” including weight loss, anxiety and other issues, according to Ross, who said she had received some information already from doctors.
Accidental deaths are within her purview as coroner.
“If that’s a true thing, that would make him the second victim,” said firefighter Ron Iddings, a longtime friend of Patterson.
They first met when Iddings joined the Neptune Volunteer Fire Company as a high schooler in 1975.
An alarm had gone off. Iddings was in the station, and Patterson, who lived on Blair Avenue behind it, “came busting through the back door,” Iddings said.
“I wonder who this guy is,” he said to himself.
It turned out to be “Big Ed,” who became fire chief in the latter half of the 1980s.
As chief, Patterson “went out of his way” to ensure that the victims of dwelling fires got the help they needed from organizations like the Salvation Army, he said.
Patterson also supported the young firefighters in their sports endeavors, including wrestling and football, Iddings said.
He also helped keep things sociable at the fire hall.
The firefighters often gathered Friday evenings.
“Someone would run down to Sheetz to get snacks, and we would all watch ‘Benny Hill,'” said Iddings, referring to a British comedy that ended in 1989.
Patterson would also play pinochle with the firefighters, Iddings said.
Patterson was involved in slo-pitch softball for about 20 years, building three teams during that time, beginning with one that identified with the fire company.
As player-manager, Patterson was about 6-foot-1 and weighed about 280, Iddings guessed. “A big boy, but he could play.”
Patterson would pitch, and Iddings would catch, then they would switch roles, said Iddings.
Patterson was “real intense,” Iddings said.
“When we got done with five or seven innings, you knew you were in a game,” he said.
Patterson sometimes would “get into it” with an umpire, if there was a bad call. “He knew how to keep us motivated,” Iddings said.
Current Neptune Chief Alan Walls joined Neptune around the time Patterson was getting ready to leave.
Patterson was “quite comical,” Walls said.
“Just the way he talked,” Walls said, explaining that Patterson didn’t always express himself in a dignified fashion.
“He was a good chief,” and knew when he was getting too old for the role, Walls said.
“Rest in peace, my brother,” Iddings said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.