HALFWAY — A Falling Waters, W.Va., man who was pulled from a burning pickup truck Thursday morning on Virginia Avenue in Halfway was pronounced dead at the scene, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities were trying to determine what caused the death of George Eugene Koons, 70, Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said Thursday afternoon.
“We don’t have a clue what caused the death until we talk to the medical examiner,” Mullendore said.
He said he wasn’t sure when the autopsy would be conducted.
Koons’ niece, Kim Bain, said her uncle was either taking his wife to work or had just dropped her off when the incident occurred.
Bain said Koons was a kind man who remained upbeat despite being engaged in a battle with prostate cancer.
“He was doing well,” she said.
Bain said her uncle recently spent time with his grandchildren when the family held a surprise birthday party for him at an area restaurant.
“He loved it,” she said. “All of his grandchildren were there. He was upbeat even though he had cancer.”
At about 4:57 a.m., police were dispatched on a call for a personal injury accident at 16909 Virginia Ave., near the Interstate 70 overpass. Washington County sheriff's deputies and Maryland State Police found a 1999 Dodge pickup truck on fire in a ditch, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
A good Samaritan was able to pull Koons from the vehicle and place him beside the driver’s side door, but then had to retreat because the heat and flames were too intense, the release said.
Koons was pronounced dead at 5:06 a.m., the release said.
Police and emergency personnel remained on the scene directing traffic until after 7 a.m., when the truck was towed away.
Deputy Shawn Marvich said the sheriff's office was investigating the cause of the fire.
According to his obituary, Koons was a 20-year military veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force. Eight of his years of military service were spent with the White House Communications Agency traveling around the nation with presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, the obituary said.
After retiring from the military, he worked for 18 years at Hagerstown Book Binding and 12 years at Dover Inlay in Williamsport, the obituary said.
Staff Writer Kate S. Alexander contributed to this story.