Bethesda couple killed in Sunday storms
By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Times Leader Staff Writer
BETHESDA — Two village residents lost their lives during the bad weather that struck the East Coast on Sunday.
Emil and Melodye Kittel died in a car accident on their way back home from a holiday trip. Bethesda police Officer Pete Busack reported the news after speaking to Pennsylvania State Police and Kittel family members.
“They were visiting their daughter and her family,” Busack said. “It was a single-car accident. It was the first accident of the storm that appeared on Sunday, when the East Coast started getting pounded. Theirs was the very first accident. They were on I-84. … The vehicle slid off the roadway and struck a tree headlong. Mr. Kittel was killed at the scene, and Mrs. Kittel died a short time later at the hospital.”
He said the Kittels both were around 69 years old. Busack believes Emil Kittel was a retired machinist with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel.
“They just had, this summer, their 50th class reunion. They had it at their home,” Busack said.
Busack said Melodye Kittel graduated from Bellaire High School while Emil Kittel graduated from the former St. John Central High School, also in Bellaire. Busack said he had acquainted himself with Emil and Melodye Kittel during his time on the Bethesda police force.
“Nothing can be said bad about them,” Busack said. “They would come out and talk to me, and I would stop occasionally and talk to both him and her. They were very personable, nice people — cared very much about the village of Bethesda. … They loved living in Bethesda. They said it was the best move they made, coming here.”
Busack said the Kittel family was working on the obituary and funeral arrangements with Bauknecht-Altmeyer Funeral Home in Bellaire on Friday. He said the funeral likely will be held Wednesday.
He added that friends and family of the couple remain in mourning.
“A holiday tragedy,” Busack termed the incident.
Bethesda Village Administrator Dirk Davis knew both accident victims. He said they had resided in Bethesda for close to 10 years and were heavily involved in village life.
“They were good people,” he said. “They were good residents of our village. They would do anything for anybody. … They’re going to be sorely missed. It was a shock to us when we found out Monday of what happened to them while they were visiting their kids and relations up in the New York area.”
Visitors at the Bethesda Senior Center on Friday reacted to the news as well.
“It’s very sad,” Sandy Kildow said.
The Kittels volunteered at the Bethesda Christian Church during mobile market days.
“They used to help hand out food every other Thursday when they’d bring the big semis in,” Davis said.
The Rev. Tim Snyder said the Kittels were not part of his congregation, but their help with the mobile market and positive attitudes were always welcome.
“We have a mobile market that meets here the first and third Thursday each month, and they’ve been attending that and … volunteering with us,” he said. “We did get a chance to know them a little bit. Just wonderful spirit, real servant-heart — willing to serve and work and help and do. I didn’t know them very long and very well, but just saw through their desire to participate.”