News - PA Trooper Killed in Motorcycle crash
A 27-year-old state police trooper stationed at the Troop N barracks in Hazleton and known as a "good kid and a good cop" was killed in a low-speed motorcycle crash Wednesday night in Columbia County.
Montour Township police said Royce Engler Jr., who was off-duty, was riding his motorcycle without a helmet with two other riders on U.S. Route 11 about 8:30 p.m. and lost control on the long, sweeping turn of an on-ramp of southbound state Route 42.
Police said Engler, of Dorrance Township, was traveling between the two other motorcyclists and his wreck caused a rider behind him to also crash. No other injuries were reported, however.
The Columbia County Coroner's Office pronounced Engler dead at the scene. Coroner Dr. Lori Masteller said no autopsy would be performed, and that Engler died from multiple traumatic injuries.
Engler and his two friends were riding from a restaurant in Buckhorn, police said. They were not drinking.
Police said the trooper was riding a chopper-style motorcycle, which has a large rear tire and stretched-out front end. He had the bike for about one month.
State police at Hazleton deferred all comment on Engler to its headquarters in Harrisburg.
Engler's father is Wright Township Police Chief Royce Engler, who has spent 34 years with the department.
Local law enforcement officials and family friends called Engler's death a tragic loss.
Daniel N. Frascella, Sr., chairman of the Wright Township Board of Supervisors and friend of the Engler family for many years, described the young trooper as "always very respectful."
"Ever since he was a boy playing Little League, I never heard an unkind word from him," he said.
Frascella said the Engler family is well-respected in the community.
"They are a very close-knit family. The father and the two boys would go hunting together and fishing," Frascella said.
Trooper Engler has a younger brother, Edward, Frascella said.
The trooper was a graduate of Crestwood High School in Wright Township and Lackawanna Junior College, where he studied criminal justice.
"He was always interested in law enforcement, with his father being a police officer," Frascella said.
"The prayers of the entire township go out to the Engler family," Frascella said. "Mountain Top is a close-knit community. We will gather around the family and help them get through this."
State police Spokeswoman Maria Finn said Engler enlisted June 2, 2008. He graduated Dec. 5, 2008, and was assigned to Troop J in Lancaster. In July 2011 he was transferred to Troop N in Swiftwater, and in October 2011 he was transferred to Troop N in Hazleton.
Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea, a retired state trooper who also served at Troop N in Hazleton, said Engler was "a great trooper and a great friend."
"He was just such a good kid. He was a good cop. He was always a perfect gentleman," DeAndrea said.
The city police department stands with the Engler family in mourning, DeAndrea said.
"Today, the Hazleton City Police department mourns the loss of a brother in arms. We respectfully express our sincere condolences to the Engler family on such a tragic loss," DeAndrea said.
"Royce's memory shall truly transcend the Pennsylvania State Police. He shall be remembered for his kindness and selfless ways," he said.
Finn called the crash "absolutely tragic," stating she "can't imagine what the family is going through." Finn said it is a sad day not only for the Engler family, but his family at the Pennsylvania State Police.
There is no policy for troopers wearing helmets when they are off-duty, state police said. Troopers are required to wear helmets when they are on-duty.
State police Commissioner Frank Noonan was unavailable for comment Thursday.
A state trooper who worked with Engler spoke on the condition of anonymity when stating that Engler's death has "devastated" the department.
Engler, like his father, was respected in law enforcement for being a "solid" cop, the trooper said.
"He was the kind of kid you would want your child to grow to be," the trooper said.
Staff writer Mia Light contributed to this report.