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Penn. Chief Killed in Car Crash While Assisting Another Department

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July 10, 2004

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Penn. Chief Killed in Car Crash While Assisting Another Department

Officer Down: Chief Sheridan O'Caton - [Elk Lick Township, Pennsylvania]

By Jennifer Thomas, The Daily American

Elk Lick Township's police chief died in the line of duty early Sunday morning, as he responded to a request for backup from a neighboring district.

Sheridan O. Caton, 60, of Meyersdale, died following the impact of a head-on collision just after 12:30 a.m., state police said.

His daughter, Roxanne Knopsnyder said police work was her father's lifelong passion. He never wavered from his dream.

" [He was] very devoted and dedicated to his job. He loved it. Love to help people," she said. "This is the way he wanted to go."

According to a state police report, at the time of the accident, Caton was responding to a call for back-up by Confluence Borough Police Department.

Knopsnyder said her father never made it to the call.

Instead, the nearly 40-year police veteran's cruiser collided with another vehicle head-on near the double yellow lines in the 2,400 block of Listonburg Road in Addison Township.

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller pronounced Caton dead at the scene. He said the cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma. An autopsy was performed.

Knopsnyder said she spoke with several of her father's officers Sunday and the loss is still unbelievable to all.

"Everybody's still in shock," she said.

The driver of the second vehicle, Warren Earl Christopher, 40, no address given by state police, is under investigation for driving while under the influence.

Christopher and his passenger, Mark Allen King, 31, also no address given, were transported by medical helicopter from the scene.

No destination was given on the police report. Somerset County Control said one was transported to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, while the other went to an unknown hospital in Pittsburgh.

A nursing supervisor at Conemaugh said she had no record of either man being treated at the facility.

Calls to a number of Pittsburgh hospitals failed to located Christopher, who's injuries were labeled as major on the police report.

King's injuries were classified as moderate on the police report.

State police said they were not releasing any additional information at this time, including hometowns or concerning where the men were transported.

An investigation is ongoing. Charges are pending based on the accident reconstruction.

Funeral arrangements for Caton are being handled by Price Funeral Home, Meyersdale. They are incomplete at this time.

Caton was chief of the Elk Lick Township Department, where he worked for nearly a decade after retiring as chief of Meyersdale's department in June of 1994.

Caton entered law enforcement in September of 1965 as a part time officer in Meyersdale, fulfilling his dream of becoming a police officer.

He was promoted to full-time in March of 1966, and took over the department just a decade later.

He retired with 29 years on the Meyersdale force.

Caton has one son, Brian Caton, along with his daughter. He is also survived by four grandchildren.

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