Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Edwin Jeffrey 'Lance' Wentzel Oct. 16, 1956 - March 22, 2014 Well Known as Runner and Youngwood Volunteer Firefighter

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Edwin Jeffrey 'Lance' Wentzel Oct. 16, 1956 - March 22, 2014 Well Known as Runner and Youngwood Volunteer Firefighter

Article excerpt

Edwin Jeffrey Wentzel -- "Lance" to those who knew him in Youngwood -- was a runner.

"I can remember in the summer, coming down one of the streets in town on a hot July day; it would be 90 degrees," said Lloyd Crago, chief of the Youngwood Volunteer Hose Company No. 1 and Mr. Wentzel's close friend for more than 30 years. "I'd pull up beside him, kidding, saying 'Come on, get in the car, it's nice and cool in here.'

"But he wouldn't. He just loved to run."

This week, as online condolences arrive from as far away as Santa Monica, Calif., to Saskatchewan, Canada, members of the Youngwood VFD are still coming to grips with the pain of losing one of their own.

Mr. Wentzel, 57, died Saturday when he was struck and killed by a Norfolk Southern freight train. He and his colleagues were searching for a missing Wilmerding woman near the Westinghouse Bridge in North Versailles.

The Youngwood VFD has a K-9 unit of 10 dogs. Mr. Wentzel and another firefighter were combing the area as "flankers" with another member who was handling the dog, "Rusty."

According to Chief Crago, the group had been called back and another set of searchers was going to canvass the area. Walking back to where the VFD had convened with three local police departments, they approached two sets of train tracks.

Trains moving at reduced speed, in opposite directions, were within sight. Stepping onto the lower set of tracks, Mr. Wentzel was hit from behind.

"It's the one thing you can't explain. ... I told my firemen, 'This is nobody's fault,' " Chief Crago said.

Assistant Chief Bob Coletta is a manager for Scott Electric, a wholesale distributor in Greensburg. Mr. Wentzel worked there since 1977, most recently as a salesman in the company's "dealer" division.

"Lance was a very 'take-it-as-it-is' guy. I never saw him get mad. Well, maybe when he was coaching me in midget football," he added with a small laugh.

The assistant chief gathered Mr. Wentzel's co-workers Monday morning to explain what happened, "and when they saw the empty chair, it was very emotional."

Although he served the community for more than 35 years, Mr. …

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