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Pa. hunter dies after fall

December 04, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

o Obituary

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- While Justin L. Mellott's family is grieving his death this week, they are holding on to final memories made Sunday night at the Thanksgiving dinner hosted at his parents' house.

It was the next morning that the 28-year-old fell from a tree stand that had broken, his wife said. The lifelong outdoorsman had ventured into the Fulton County, Pa., woods on the first day of hunting season in the state, Aimee Mellott said.

Justin never regained consciousness after the fall and was pronounced dead Tuesday at Altoona (Pa.) Regional Trauma Center.

"He was just an all-around good person. He was always thinking of how he could help people," Aimee Mellott said.

Justin, a 1998 graduate of McConnellsburg High School, most enjoyed spending time with his 3-year-old son, Logan, and 10-month-old daughter, Zoe. He and Logan would sleep on cots and make edible treats as they remodeled the McConnellsburg home recently purchased by the family, Aimee Mellott said.

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Aimee Mellott, who met her husband five years ago on Christmas Eve, said the accident has put the meaning of Thanksgiving and thankfulness in stronger perspective, something she will explain to her son as he grows.

"I'm going to teach him to be thankful for every day," she said.

Justin studied mechanics and later worked in auto body repair.

"From the time he was young, he'd take apart cars and put them back together," said his mother, Marie Mellott.

Three years ago, the handyman of the family moved from automotive work into a position at JLG Industries, where he learned about robotics.

"When he did something, he'd do it the right way without taking shortcuts," Marie Mellott said.

Most of Justin's free time took him into the outdoors, whether he was fishing, boating, hunting, tubing or camping.

"He took his boy camping all the time," Marie Mellott said.

Beach vacations involved campfires with steaks on the grill and s'mores, Aimee Mellott said. The family also visited amusement parks, where father and son would jump on rides together, she said.

"We have lots of pictures for them to remember that," Aimee Mellott said.

She described her husband as someone who was generous and compassionate, the type of person who would happily take a middle-of-the-night phone call from someone in need. That spirit of giving, she said, has been returned through the businesses and individuals saying they plan to contribute to the children's trust fund.

Marie Mellott said that Logan and Zoe will be told all the time how much their father loved them. Adults have already tried to explain to Logan that he will not be able to see his father anymore -- a concept the boy has partially grasped.

"He knows his daddy isn't coming back," Marie Mellott said.

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