Large crowd greets Air Force pilot's hearse in Kennedy
By Mike Wereschagin
Published: Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 6:33 p.m.
For the second time in a week, Kelly Rauschart stood quietly and watched the body of a man she never met pass by.
Rauschart, 50, joined hundreds of people along Pine Hollow Road in Kennedy on Saturday morning to greet the funeral procession for Air Force Capt. Sean Ruane. Two days earlier, Rauschart, an American Airlines flight attendant, watched in silence with others at Pittsburgh International Airport as an honor guard took Ruane's casket from the plane she was about to board.
Ruane, 31, a Montour High School graduate from Kennedy, died with three airmen on Jan. 7, when the Pave Hawk helicopter he was flying crashed during a low-level training flight in England. A combat rescue pilot, husband and father of a 14-month-old boy, Ruane deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family buried him in a private ceremony in Resurrection Cemetery.
Gray clouds hung low over Kennedy, hiding the blue sky that tugged at Ruane throughout his life. A steady wind drove powdery snow through the 20-degree air, stirring the flags held by those who lined the road.
“He gave his life. I can give an hour in the cold,” Rauschart said. “It is our responsibility to be here for him.”
The township's fire chief, Christopher Gutt, organized the gathering, as he did when Army Staff Sgt. and Kennedy native Patrick Kutschbach died in 2007. As word spread, six fire companies and two ambulance companies asked to take part.
Several of Ruane's childhood friends warmed themselves in a foyer of a small building while waiting for the procession. Janelle Ganley, 33, of Oakdale wore the small, gold, heart-shaped pendant Ruane gave her in high school. She, Jamie Chambers, Brian Ganley and Jessica Simpson remembered an athlete, a saxophone player and a friend who moved easily between the social groups that can seem so intractable to adolescents.
“You're not going to find one clique of friends,” said Simpson, 32, of Beaver. “He was friends with everyone.”
The procession, led by eight police vehicles from various departments, passed the crowd after 10 a.m. It passed Hilary Zubritzky, 65, Ruane's middle school home economics teacher, and Kevin Maehling, 49, of Mt. Lebanon, who with his wife, Stacy, wanted to teach their daughter Kiera, 8, about respect for the dead.
Steve Moll, 65, of Kennedy stood near the end of the crowd. An Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, Moll said his son attended Montour High School ahead of Ruane and his daughter graduated two years behind him.
“He's one of ours,” Moll said.
Mourners inside more than 60 cars looked through their windows as they slowly passed the silent crowd. Some in the cars waved. Others wept.
Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Allegheny County Democrats endorse several incumbents in primary
- Ailing Downtown August Wilson Center awaits rescue; no real estate offers yet
- Context key to 2nd trial of Pittsburgh police officers in Homewood man’s arrest
- Western Pennsylvania organizations team to find housing for vets
- Postal Service pays $180K for unopened site
- Newsmaker: Dr. Yoel Sadovsky
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- Trib’s Hiel honored for reporting on Coptic Christians
- Penn Hills grave fraud case held over for trial