ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Hundreds of first responders joined family and friends Friday for the funeral and procession for the Rostraver Township paramedic who was hit and killed Sunday while responding to a crash on Interstate 70.
Matthew Smelser, a father of two, spent two decades serving his community. Coworkers said he died doing the job he loved, the job he wanted to do since he was 14 years old.
“It’s just a sad day. It’s crazy how many vehicles are here. They’ve been here all morning long. Sad day for everybody,” Craig Diehm said.
They also said, however, this shows how dangerous it is to be a first responder.
Smelser, 43, of Carroll Township, was killed about 5:30 a.m. Sunday when he got out of an ambulance on I-70 to help a crash victim. He was hit by a passing truck.
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Smelser worked at the Rostraver Ambulance Service for 24 years and was a supervisor for 20 years. Pennsylvania State Police said icy roads might have been a factor in the deadly accident.
A memorial outside Smelser’s ambulance station off Route 201 featured flowers, candles, his bulletproof emergency vest and the American flag flying at half-staff.
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered commonwealth flags to be flown at half-staff in Smelser’s memory, saying his death is a tragic reminder of the risks taken by emergency personnel each day.
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