Kenneth Michael Young, an 18-year veteran of the and the fire chief for , died Sunday at the age of 53 after battling cancer.
"We lost our brother," said Northern Regional Police Chief T. Robert Amann.
"Ken was a very dedicated officer. He was very dedicated to his profession, both as a police officer and a firefighter," said Amann.
Young was a member of the Wexford Volunteer Fire Co. for more than 30 years, serving as chief for the last 22 years.
"During his time in office, Ken worked hard to bring the Wexford VFC from a small department serving a rural community to a department that was able to adapt to meet the needs of a rapidly growing community and advance into the 21st century," a message on the fire department's website states.
"Under his watch, among many other things, we were able to build two stations, purchase our first rescue truck, put two state-of-the-art fire engines into service and be honored as a participating department in the State Fire Commissioner's certification recognition program," the message continued.
For Northern Regional Police, Young was the department's accident reconstructionist, investigating serious or fatal accidents in Northern Regional's coverage area of Pine, Richland and Marshall townships and Bradford Woods.
Other police departments in the North Hills called on Young for his expertise with accident reconstruction; the Pennsylvania State Police trained Young, said Amann.
"Ken was well-respected by his law enforcement peers for the work he did with accident reconstruction. That really was his forte here," he said.
"There aren't many police officers trained to be accident reconstructionists. He was one of the few in Western Pennsylvania."
Young could testify in court as an expert witness in accident reconstruction, said Amann.
When Young investigated an accident and dealt with the victim's family or the family of the person who was negligent, "he always had their feelings in mind.
"One thing about Ken, he treated everyone fairly," Amann continued.
One of the most difficult cases Young investigated was the Route 8 wood chipper accident in 2006 in which a wood chipper disengaged from the truck towing it and plowed into a minivan, killing the driver and two triplets, the chief said.
"That was very difficult. Ken was able to maintain his composure through that entire horrific accident," said Amann.
Another difficult accident was in 2007 in Marshall Township when two people were killed after a Cranberry Ambulance Corp. ambulance and compact car collided on Route 19 at Brush Creek Road, said Amann.
Young answered calls for accident reconstruction day and night.
"When the bell rang, he answered," Amann said.
Pine Supervisor Ted Owen, who is the township's liaison with the fire company, said, "Ken was a calm and professional negotiator in the business interests of Wexford Volunteer Fire Co. He was really, really good at it, and I was impressed."
After Young was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, he never stopped planning to come back to work. Amann said. Young would ask the chief to bring him accident reports while he was off from work to see if he could help the other officers with their investigations.
"There wasn't one time that he didn't tell me he was coming back," said Amann. "His will to live was to come back to work and to see his grandkids."
In September, Young went to Alaska to see his newest grandchild.
"Ken had enough strength and will to get to Alaska," said Amann.
Young was a member of Perry-Ionic Lodge No. 796.
He died peacefully at home with his family at his side.
He was the beloved husband of Karen (Deer) Young; dear father of Deborah Wisniowski (Eric) and Amy Yanick (Michael); papa of Kaia and Liam Michael Wisniowski; son of Betty and Kenneth R. Young; brother of Patrick Young, Dawn Pustay and Wendy Essex; and uncle to five nephews.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m.Wednesday and Thursday at , 10418 Perry Highway, Wexford.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Paul's Methodist Church, 1965 Ferguson Road, Allison Park. The family asks that everyone meet at the church.
There will be a police and fire escort from the church to the cemetery.
Any fire departments wishing to send fire apparatus to the funeral service are asked to contact the Wexford Volunteer Fire Co. at 724-935-1491 for details. If no one answers, callers are asked to leave a message in the general mailbox.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Memorial Fund, 228 North Chapel Drive, Wexford, PA 15090.