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Coal Center man dead in Chartiers SUV crash

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

A Coal Center man whose SUV hit a tree early Tuesday morning was declared dead at the scene, and authorities are still trying to determine what caused the accident.

Police said John F. Duda Sr., 67, of 267 Short St. was on his way to work around 5:30 a.m. when his Ford Explorer veered off state Route 519 in Chartiers Township.

Chartiers police Chief Jim Horvath said he did not think the accident was weather related.

“Witnesses told us he was navigating a left bend in the road and then, for whatever reason, lost control,” Horvath said Tuesday evening. “The roads were fairly clear, just a little slushy. ... It might have been due to some sort of medical condition, but we won't know until the autopsy is performed.”

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said the cause of death is pending.

“I wish we could tell the family the reason he lost control. Right now, that's the $1 million question,” Warco said.

The impact heavily damaged the front, driver's side of Duda's vehicle.

His body had to be extricated by Chartiers Township and Houston volunteer firefighters, Horvath said.

Duda appeared to have died upon impact, Horvath suggested. Warco arrived at the scene and declared Duda dead at 7:15 a.m.

Horvath said a lunch pail was recovered from Duda's vehicle. He was a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 66.

“It's a shame,” Horvath said. “It appears he was just a working man trying to get to his job.”

Duda is survived by a wife, Linda; his mother, Margaret, of Rostraver Township; and four children. An obituary appears on Page A4.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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