'Extreme valor and courage'
Lansford Borough Council today lauded patrolman Chris Ondrus, who was taken at gunpoint from his home Friday night by fellow officer Dave Midas, who later committed suicide.
"Those who knew Chris Ondrus and Dave Midas were well aware of their deep friendship," council President Rose Mary Cannon said in a prepared release. "They were the best of friends. There was no conflict between them."
Ondrus' actions as Midas drove him to Jim Thorpe in a police cruiser were courageous, Cannon said.
"During the early evening, Ondrus was initially a hostage. However, Ondrus, who was not on duty at the time, soon acted with extreme valor and courage as he remained in the car when he had the opportunity to leave. Taking this time to quietly advise the communication center of their whereabouts. He continued to remain with Midas in the hope of defusing the situation and saving Dave's life as well as eliminating the danger to others. We cannot express how proud we are of Officer Ondrus," she wrote.
Midas, 33, a lieutenant with the Carbon County Sheriff's Office and a part-time police officer in Lansford and Summit Hill, was known for his calm, upbeat personality. He taught Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs in local schools, and safety programs for children.
He most recently spoke with the Nesquehoning Women's Club about scams, and in August, he led children who live at the Lansford Townhouses through an energetic and positive program about staying safe while playing outdoors.
Those who worked with Midas remain baffled as to why he took Ondrus, who is the godfather of one of Midas' young sons, hostage, and then ended his own life.
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around it," Cannon said in a telephone interview early Monday.
Carbon County Commissioner Tom Gerhard, who knew Midas for about 10 years, struggled Monday to comprehend the loss. Gerhard got the news while he was at a Marian High School football game on Friday night.
"I didn't sleep Friday night. I think there were a lot of people like that," he said early Monday.
"Dave was a friend of everyone. This is such a loss for Weatherly and the entire county. It's just devastating," Gerhard said. "He was always happy, always smiling, never had a bad word to say about anyone. I don't know what happened. His family is in our thoughts and prayers. This a great loss for us all."
He said the county will be providing counseling today for the sheriff's department and any other county employees who want to participate.
"It's a sad, sad day here," Gerhard said.
County District Attorney Gary Dobias, who worked closely with Midas over the past 10 years, said the courthouse is a solemn place today.
"I consider Dave a personal friend. He was always outgoing and friendly," he said. "As a deputy sheriff and a police officer, he was always professional, well prepared and always did an outstanding job."