State trooper, 47, killed in collision with semi-truck laid to rest

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SOUTH BEAVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A Pennsylvania state trooper who was killed in a two-vehicle crash last week in Beaver County was laid to rest Tuesday.

Hundreds of state troopers and other law enforcement officers attended the funeral services Tuesday for State Police Trooper First Class Blake T. Coble, who was killed in a crash while on duty.

“We are all family,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said following Tuesday’s service. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

The funeral procession began arriving from Peters in Washington County around 11:30 a.m. Following the funeral service, Coble will be buried with full military honors in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Chippewa.

Troopers gathered from all over Pennsylvania as well as from Maryland, West Virginia and other states and were beginning to line up in formation as bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” in the background.

Two fire department ladder trucks with an American flag strung between them sat at the entrance of the college parking lot, and chairs were set up for hundreds of people to attend the funeral service.

More than 750 officers are gathered, including a contingent of about 50 Pittsburgh police officers, Allegheny County police, Allegheny County Sheriff's Office and Mt. Lebanon police.

Gov. Tom Corbett ordered all Pennsylvania flags in the Capitol complex in Harrisburg and at state facilities in Beaver County to fly at half-staff until after Coble's burial.

According to police, a semi-truck collided with the trooper's cruiser just after 10 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of Route 168 and Blackhawk Road in South Beaver Township.

Coble was taken to Beaver County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Coble was a 24-year veteran of the force who was married with two kids. Officials said he was just three months away from retiring.

State police commissioner Frank Noonan released a statement saying, "It is with a very heavy heart and a deep sense of sadness that I announce the tragic death of Trooper First Class Blake T. Coble of Troop D, Beaver Station."

Trooper Coble, age 47, had been a member of the Pennsylvania State Police since Nov. 1, 1988. 

His untimely death left two children without a father and a wife without her husband, plus countless friends and family members grieving.  He died serving the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the men and women of the Pennsylvania State Police mourn his loss and extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends."

Coble's funeral will begin at noon at the Community College of Beaver County. He will be buried at Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Beaver Falls with full military honors.

“We’re like a family and we lost a friend. Children lost a father. A mother lost a son, and I could keep going on. We have a lot of inherent risks that we have to accept,” Lt. Eric Hermick said. “It’s heart-wrenching to see but it is a fatal crash that took somebody’s life. Unfortunately it affects us personally, as well as professionally.”

Coble was the 94th member of Pennsylvania state police to be killed in the line of duty.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.