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Dedicated to the end

  • TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Claudia J. Sokol directing traffic on West Ludlow Street in Summit Hill. The Summit Hill fire police member died Friday, after collapsing at an accident scene on Thursday.
    TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Claudia J. Sokol directing traffic on West Ludlow Street in Summit Hill. The Summit Hill fire police member died Friday, after collapsing at an accident scene on Thursday.
Published February 25. 2013 05:04PM

One has to wonder where Claudia J. Sokol, 55, found the time - and energy - to do all she did.

Sokol, who collapsed Thursday at an accident scene while serving as a fire police member in Summit Hill, died Friday in St. Luke's Hospital, Fountain Hill.

She was a member of the Summit Hill fire police since 2007 and responded to many accidents, fires, and emergency scenes.

In addition, she helped with the Lutheran Food Pantry in Lansford and was a volunteer at the Lansford Coal Miner's Museum.

She was a cheerleading coach for the Panther Valley Knee-hi program and a member of the chain crew for home football games.

She was also a caretaker for her aunt.

Sokol also helped with the Breaker Boys football team where her husband served as an assistant coach.

Each year Sokol, of Summit Hill, volunteered at the annual Summit Hill Memorial Day Weekend Stay-At-Home Festival.

She worked as a bus monitor for the Panther Valley School District, where parents and children admired her.

She was the wife of David M. Sokol Sr. The couple celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary this month.

Emergency personnel will have special events during her funeral on Wednesday, escorting her procession with fire apparatus.

Kevin Steber, public information officer of the Summit Hill Fire Department, remarked, "She was very dedicated not only to the fire department, but the community in general."

Steber recalls Sokol not only as a fire police member, but also as the bus monitor for his child last year.

"She was always looking to lend a hand to somebody," he said.

Another individual who knew her as a bus monitor echoed his words, recalling how she was always helpful and considerate.

Her full obituary appears on page 4 of today's TIMES NEWS.

Summit Hill Mayor Paul McArdle, also a member of the fire police, responded to the same accident as Sokol on Thursday about 1 p.m. They live across the street from each other for the past 22 years.

McArdle said he pulled up to the scene, which was atop the Lansford-Summit Hill hill, and Sokol pulled behind him. Behind her was another fire police member, John Allesch.

Both McArdle and Allesch glanced in the direction of Sokol and observed her apparently getting her reflective vest. McArdle proceeded into the street for traffic control.

"When John put his vest on, she was down, all within a few seconds," McArdle said. "At first we thought maybe she fell because of the ice." Immediately an ambulance was called.

Lansford Ambulance transported her, via police escort, to Coaldale Hospital, from where she was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to St. Luke's.

McArdle expressed how sad he was at her passing.

"She was very nice. She was willing to help anybody. So were her husband and son.

"She's going to be missed up here," he added. "She's going to be missed at the fire company. She did a lot."

He said he still finds it hard to believe that "one minute she pulled onto an (emergency) scene and the next minute she was being airlifted."

Summit Hill Fire Chief Shawn Hoben stated, "The entire membership of the Diligence Fire Company No. 1 wishes to express our heartfelt condolences to her husband David and her entire family."

Wake services will take place at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 104 E. Abbott St in Lansford, on Tuesday evening from 5-8 p.m.

Funeral services will be on Wednesday at the church with a call from 10-11 a.m. and service at 11 a.m..

A fire apparatus procession will proceed from the church to the GAR cemetery on East White Street in Summit Hill. Parking for apparatus will be on the 100 block of E. Bertsch Street in Lansford.

Fire and emergency services organizations wishing to attend should contact Captain John C. Poko at (570) 657-0993 with apparatus and member count.

Sokol is the second Summit Hill emergency response volunteer to die while on active duty within the past 10 years.

Fire Company Chief Engineer John "Jackie" Stoudt was stricken ill answering a dwelling fire in the borough of Lansford on Christmas Eve in 2004.

He died on Christmas Day at the age of 66.

Jackie took on the nickname of "Brother," having served the fire department for 49 years.

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