Eerie similarities to chief's suicide 24 years ago
Dave Midas and Edward Hutto didn't know each other but they had so much in common.
Both were hard workers with multiple jobs, both were devoted family men, both would go out of their way to help others, both had easygoing personalities, and both were police officers who took their lives in similar fashion.
Midas was very involved in the DARE program, which discouraged students from using drug and alcohol. Hutto's priority was fighting drug use through educational programs.
Midas, 33, was the chief deputy of the Carbon County Sheriff's office. He also worked part-time as a police officer for several communities including Lansford, Jim Thorpe, and Summit Hill.
Friday night, after taking a fellow police officer hostage, then stealing a police cruiser, Midas put a gun to his head and killed himself.
Hutto, 40, was chief of police in Lehighton. He also did painting on the side as well as some insurance investigation work.
On the morning of Sept. 2, 1989, shortly after 2 a.m., Hutto called me, a newspaper reporter, and told me to meet him along Route 209 at LaRose's Skating Rink in Franklin Township. He said there was a drug raid. He showed up in his personal van, told me to hop in, and then informed me there was no raid. He proceeded to tell me about his problems.
Friday afternoon, Midas was enjoying time with his young son, Gunnar, then left his home, went to Lansford, and lost control.
On Friday, Sept. 1, 1989, Hutto worked at a high-school football game, went to a diner afterward and had what seemed to be an enjoyable time with fellow police officers.
When he left the diner, he went home, became physical with his wife, then called me on the phone.
Midas drove a Lansford police cruiser to Jim Thorpe. The police officer he took hostage, Chris Ondrus, got into a physical tussle with him in an attempt to stop him from killing himself. Midas prevailed, though.
With Hutto, we drove around for several hours before stopping along a lonely dirt road in Towamensing Township.
He revealed to me information about his personal life, counseling he tried, his professional life and how some people were trying to get him fired.
Suddenly, Hutto took me back to my car parked in the skating rink parking lot. He then went to an area church parking lot, parked his vehicle, and fired a shot that claimed his life.
Although I have no idea what caused Midas to snap, with Hutto it was as indicated by the dialogue that fateful night that it was a buildup of stress. Hutto felt things in his personal and professional life were out of control.
Never did the topic with Hutto that night turn to suicide, although it was obvious he wasn't acting normal.
I remember saying to him, "Ed, there must be something very heavy laying on your heart to call me out like this. Is there anything specific you want to talk about?"
I admit I was nervous.
He responded that he just wanted to speak to me about things in general.
This weekend, I spoke with a couple of local police officers who related to me about the stress of the job. They wouldn't speak on record. They declined to talk about Midas.
One officer mentioned about all the sadness police officers experience including fatal accidents involving children, domestic violence and domestic situations involving children, and constant political pressure.
"There's no place for us to turn," one officer said.