Trooper killed in Beaver County crash was 3 months from retirement
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 12:06 p.m.
A state trooper who was three months from retirement died on Thursday when a tractor-trailer ran a stop sign and hit his patrol car broadside at a rural intersection in South Beaver, state police said.
State police identified the trooper as Blake T. Coble, a 24-year veteran who works out of Troop D, Beaver Station, where they said his wife, Brenda, is a dispatcher. They have two children, 6 and 8.
“His untimely death left two children without a father and a wife without her husband,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a statement.
The accident happened about 10 a.m. at the intersection of Route 168 and Blackhawk Road, shutting the roadways for hours after the crash.
Coble, 47, was taken to Heritage Valley Beaver hospital in Brighton Township where he died, according to Noonan. He was the 94th Pennsylvania trooper killed in the line of duty.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Gregory Golkosky, 47, of Mt. Pleasant, was not injured. He was not charged on Thursday, and the investigation is continuing, police said.
No one answered the door at Coble's home in a quiet South Beaver neighborhood about three miles from the crash site.
Neighbors described Coble as a devoted family man who was looking forward to his retirement and traveling. The couple were shopping for a travel trailer to hitch to an SUV they bought last weekend, said Tami Riggle, 50.
Riggle said Coble enjoyed playing with his children and their friends. He would hitch a cart to an all-terrain vehicle and slowly drive them around, Riggle said.
“He was friendly as ever and would do anything for you,” said Heather Barger, 42. “Just a very kind, very devoted husband and father. When he wasn't working, he was playing with his kids, and you could tell he loved that more than anything in the world.”
Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said Coble once worked a dangerous assignment as an undercover narcotics officer, but the accident shows “patrol work is also inherently dangerous.” The tractor-trailer was headed south on Route 168 when it drove through a stop sign and slammed into the driver's side of Coble's patrol car, state police said in a news conference at the Beaver barracks.
“It's tough. We lost a friend, a wife lost her husband, two children lost their father,” said state police Lt. Eric Hermick.
Trooper Richard McEwen smiled as he reminisced about Coble's waist-length hair when he worked undercover drug cases.
“He was a good crime guy, a good interviewer, just an all-around good trooper,” McEwen said.
It has been more than a decade since a trooper died in a traffic accident, state police said. In 2001, Trooper Tod Kelly died upon being struck by a vehicle as he removed debris from Interstate 79 in Robinson, state police said.
Police said a full military funeral would likely be held for Coble, pending his family's wishes. Gov. Tom Corbett ordered all Pennsylvania flags in the Capitol complex in Harrisburg and at state facilities in Beaver County to fly at half-staff until his burial.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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