A state trooper three months from retirement died Thursday when a tractor-trailer truck ran a stop sign at a rural Beaver County intersection and hit his cruiser, state police said.
Trooper Blake T. Coble, 47, a veteran who worked out of the Beaver County barracks where his wife is a dispatcher, died at a local hospital following the crash in South Beaver Township.
The truck driver, Gregory Golkosky, 47, of Mount Pleasant, was being questioned Thursday but had not been charged.
Investigating troopers said Mr. Golkosky was driving his empty flatbed rig south on Route 168 shortly after 10 a.m. Trooper Coble, who was on routine patrol, was driving east on Route 151.
Police said Mr. Golkosky ran the stop sign at the intersection and smashed into the driver's side of Trooper Coble's cruiser.
The trooper was taken to Heritage Valley Beaver hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Golkosky, who was on his way to pick up a load, wasn't hurt. Troopers said he was cooperating in the investigation but they wouldn't reveal what he'd told them.
Lt. Eric Hermick said troopers were still reconstructing the accident but said it was "extremely clear" from the evidence that Mr. Golkosky ran the stop sign at high speed. Images of the crash scene taken by news helicopters showed that the truck hit the cruiser broadside and smashed in the driver's side.
Trooper Coble, whose wife, Brenda, is a dispatcher at the Brighton barracks where he had worked since 1992, joined the state police in 1988 and worked initially out of the Erie barracks. The couple married in 2003 and had two children, ages 6 and 8.
Tony Berosh, the district attorney in Beaver County, said it was ironic that Trooper Coble died in a traffic crash after a long career as a trooper that included a dangerous three-year stint in narcotics while stationed in Beaver County.
Mr. Berosh said Trooper Coble had recently told him he planned to retire in three months. He wasn't sure what Trooper Coble intended to do with his time, but he said the trooper was looking forward to it.
"He was counting the days," he said. "Our hearts go out to his family and to the other members of this barracks."
Fellow troopers and friends gathered at the station Thursday to grieve.
"It's tough. We lost a friend, a wife lost her husband, two children lost their father," said Lt. Hermick. "You just get through it. It's heart-wrenching. But it is what it is."
Torsten Ove: email@example.com. First Published October 5, 2012 4:00 AM