Hundreds of state troopers and police from around the country packed a Beaver County gym Tuesday to mourn a trooper who died last week when a big rig ran a stop sign at a rural intersection and smashed his cruiser.
Trooper Blake Coble, 47, who was three months from retirement, died Thursday and left behind his wife, Brenda, a dispatcher at the Brighton barracks where he worked, and two young children, Savannah, 6, and Jimmy, 8.
He also left behind angry and grief-stricken colleagues, one of whom lashed out at the driver of the truck during a rambling eulogy at the Golden Dome on the campus of the Community College of Beaver County.
Peter Schaefer, a recently retired trooper who had worked with Trooper Coble, said he didn't know what the trucker, Gregory Golkosky, was thinking when he drove his empty flatbed through the stop sign on Route 168 in South Beaver and slammed into Trooper Coble's patrol car.
"It's about the stupidest thing anyone can do," Mr. Schaefer told the gathering of nearly 800 police officers.
Mr. Golkosky, 47, of Mount Pleasant has not been charged, but police said he sped through the sign and hit the police car on the driver's side.
Trooper Coble, a 24-year veteran who started his career in Erie in 1988, was remembered as a fun-loving, laid-back sort who didn't like to wear his uniform tie or hat but was a good officer dedicated to public service.
Another trooper, Cpl. Mark Bardzil, recalled that when he first met Trooper Coble in Butler, he was dressed in shorts, sandals and a Jimmy Buffet T-shirt and sported a beard and long hair. Cpl. Bardzil was intimidated at first and thought he might get beaten up by the imposing stranger, but Trooper Coble said "Don't worry, I'm a good guy" and introduced himself as a narcotics officer. The two soon became friends.
Cpl. Bardzil said Trooper Coble, while not big on spit-and-polish, was quick to back up other officers and didn't shy away from danger.
But he was also a family man who brought his children into the station to run around and especially enjoyed the days when he worked the same shift as his wife.
The funeral procession to and from the community college included police from as far away as Alabama and Canada, in addition to some 50 Pittsburgh police officers.
After a two-hour service that featured prayers from pastors, poems from family and several songs by James Markell, a Monroeville officer who often sings at police functions, an honor guard carried Trooper Coble's flag-draped casket out of the gym as troopers stood at attention. He was buried with full military honors at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Chippewa.
Trooper Blake Coble was remembered as a laid-back sort
who didn't like to wear his uniform tie or hat
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510. First Published October 10, 2012 4:00 AM