A 36-year-old mother and Millheim Fire Company member died Friday after a three-vehicle crash in Potter Township.
According to state police at Rockview, an unidentified man was driving westbound on the 3100 block of Penns Valley Pike at about 5:40 p.m. when he struck a farm tractor from behind. His vehicle then went into the eastbound lane and struck another vehicle.
That vehicle was driven by Millheim Fire Company active member and Aaronsburg resident Crystal Wetzel, the fire company said Saturday.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers pronounced her dead at the scene and, after an autopsy, said she died of head trauma, according to a press release.
“It is with unbelievable sadness and angst that we have lost our active member, Crystal Estright Wetzel, to an vehicle accident while returning home to her family, her husband Brian, and their two young children. In this time of sorrow, we are all in heartfelt shock as a company and family,” the company said in a Facebook post. “Her cheerfulness and assistance in serving the community through the fire service was boundless. A ‘Thank you’ simply is not enough sometimes and this is one of of those times. Go in peace Crystal. Till we meet again sister.”
A GoFundMe was organized Saturday to help pay for her funeral expenses.
“My sweet friend Crystal Wetzel was tragically killed in an accident last night. She leaves behind two daughters and her husband Brian! This is a very hard working family that is at a complete loss right now!” organizer Ashley Kristine said. “Any donations would be greatly appreciated to help with funeral costs! Thank you everyone!”
Company treasurer Dennis Heggenstaller said Wetzel was a “big help” with fundraising for numerous years.
“I was hoping she was going to take my job,” Heggenstaller said with a sorrowful laugh. “She always had a smile on her face. I know it sounds like we’re just saying that, but she had such a positive attitude.”
Heggenstaller recalled growing up with a cousin who lost a parent and said living without a parent is an “inconceivable loss.”
Heggenstaller said the Centre Hall Volunteer Fire Company called to express their condolences, while the Port Matilda Fire Company and the Boalsburg Fire Company reach out via Facebook.
“The officers and members of Port Matilda Fire Company send our sincere condolences to Millheim Fire Company #1 on the loss of one of their own. Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers,” the Port Matilda Fire Company said.