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Icy road blamed in Somerset deputy coroner's death

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 11:30 p.m.

State police in Somerset said icy road conditions on Wednesday morning contributed to a crash that killed a 73-year-old deputy coroner and retired Somerset Borough policeman near Rockwood.

Police said James W. Hahn of Somerset died in the crash that occurred about 9:25 a.m. along Water Level Road in Milford Township, near Laurel Hill State Park.

“It's been a very tough day. He was a wonderful person ... like a brother to me,” said county Coroner Wallace Miller.

Police said Hahn's 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt was traveling south on the rural road when a northbound 2001 Dodge Durango driven by a 17-year-old Rockwood boy went out of control and struck Hahn's vehicle. The crash occurred about a mile outside Rockwood.

The teen's vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and Hahn couldn't avoid the collision. Hahn's car was struck on the driver's side door.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said neither driver was wearing a seat belt.

The teenager, whom police did not identify, was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

“Everybody knew Jim. One or two weeks after he retired as a policeman in 2005, my dad (Wilbur) and I were looking for someone to help around the funeral home. He was always very personable, and we knew he was always very good around bereaving people, so we decided to ask him if he'd be interested, and we hired him,” Miller said.

“The work with the funeral home naturally led to his work as a deputy coroner, and he was very good at it,” Miller said. “He'll definitely be missed.”

Hahn was headed to the Miller Funeral Home in Rockwood to assist with a funeral when the crash occurred.

Hahn is survived by two sons, Jeffrey William and Steven Henry, and a grandson, Kurt.

He graduated from Meyersdale High School and worked at Shipley Hardware from 1960 to 1962. After a tour in the Army from 1963 to 1965, during which he was attached to the 515th Military Police Company, he worked as a police officer in Meyersdale from 1966 to 1970.

He graduated from the Municipal Police Academy in Hershey in 1968. In 1970, he was hired as a police officer in Somerset and retired in 2005. He was still active with the Roof Garden Lodge 98, Fraternal Order of Police.

Funeral arrangements were not complete.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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