The firefighter, Edwin “Jeff” Wentzel, served with the Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department in Westmoreland County for 35 years, said Youngwood fire Chief Lloyd Crago.
“I’m sorry for his family and the department,” the chief said. “We suffered a great loss today out trying to do our job.”
Mr. Wentzel, 57, of Youngwood was struck by a Norfolk Southern train at 5:46 p.m. near Elder Street under the Westinghouse Bridge.
Wentzel was part of a team from the fire department that brought canines in to help in the search for 55-year-old Ruth Mullennix of Wilmerding. She hasn’t been seen since Monday night.
KDKA Photographer Bryce Lutz witnessed the accident.
Lutz: “I was shooting video, I was zoomed in, and the guy was walking along the gravel, he walked up onto the tracks and he didn’t see the train coming, didn’t hear it – I don’t know – but it just hit him.”
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti: “Did you hear a train whistle?”
Lutz: “I heard a whistle. I’m not sure if it was that train or another train coming from the opposite direction.”
The Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department regrets to announce the Line of Duty Death of firefighter Edwin J. “Lance” Wentzel today, March 22, 2014.
Lance, 57, succumbed to injuries sustained during a search, with the YVFD K-9 team, for a missing person in Allegheny County.
Lance joined the YVFD on Feb. 12, 1979, and was a life member with 35 years of service. He held numerous positions during his career. He was named the Firefighter of the Year in 2012.
He is survived by his wife, Judy, sons, Chris and Jeremy and several grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the McCauley Funeral Home, Youngwood.
Additional information will follow.