North Huntingdon man, 88, dies after catching on fire in backyard
A North Huntingdon man was killed Thursday afternoon when he caught fire while burning something in his back yard, police said.
The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office on Thursday didn’t rule on the cause and manner of death of Thomas J. Scheetz, 88, but said he was found with thermal injuries next to a burn barrel at his home in the 700 block of Colonial Manor Road.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner John A. Ackerman, who set the time of death at 1:50 p.m.
An autopsy will be performed Friday by Dr. Cyril Wecht and Pathology Associates. Results of toxicology tests aren’t expected for several weeks.
North Huntingdon Patrolman Tom Harris also was investigating.
His son, Thomas W. Scheetz, arrived early in the evening from his home in Elk County and wasn’t sure how his father had lost his life.
“He’s had quite a few doctor appointments,” Scheetz said of his father. “My sister was looking over him.”
Neighbor Dale Wasco recalled the elder Scheetz as “a nice guy, friendly.” As he aged, “You didn’t see him around too much anymore,” Wasco said.
Wasco, who wasn’t at home when his neighbor died, said he’d seen Scheetz occasionally using a burn barrel in his yard, but not since summertime.
Striffler Funeral Home of White Oak is in charge of arrangements.
Jeff Himler and Paul Peirce are Tribune-Review staff writers.