Whether high in the air flying planes for the state police, or down on the ground coaching his former Little League team to victory, friends remember Sgt. John C. LaRose, 50, as a dependable man who knew how to keep his cool under pressure.
A-23-year veteran of the state police, LaRose, of Muncy, lost his life in a two-vehicle crash Monday afternoon on Route 120 in Lumber Township, Cameron County.
According to police, LaRose's Ford Crown Victoria lost traction on the wet roadway as it was rounding a curve and collided with a Hyundai Tucson traveling in the opposite lane.
WNEP reported that LaRose was driving a state-owned car and on his way home at the time of the crash.
The Hyundai was driven by Stephen Zoschg, 62, of Emporium. Police say that Stephen and his passenger, Laura Zoschug, 58, also of Emporium, were both wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Both suffered moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital.
LaRose was pronounced dead at the scene by Cameron County Coroner Ted Walters.
An avid pilot, LaRose spent 11 years flying in the state police's Aviation patrol unit out of Montoursville.
After the air unit moved, LaRose was offered a position flying out of Harrisburg. However, he wanted to stay in the local area, where he had built a home and was raising his four children. He returned to field work instead of transferring down to Harrisburg.
Friends remember LaRose as a man who was extraordinarily dedicated to his family and the betterment of the community around him.
After receiving his degree in aeronautical engineering from Penn State, he spent several years working in New Jersey for the RCA Corp.
A veteran, LaRose served with the U.S. Air force.
After acquiring the rank of second lieutenant, LaRose returned to Williamsport and began working as a flight instructor and charter pilot.
Dave Frey, marketing director with the airport, recalled the eight years he spent working with LaRose. In the mid-90s Frey flew helicopters out of the airport while LaRose flew planes.
"He was a pilot of exceptional skill and a really nice guy. He was a very articulate, very intelligent man," Frey said.
He recalled that LaRose was an avid woodworker in his spare time and had a natural attention to detail.
Frey recalled that instinct served LaRose well during one ill-fated flight to Harrisburg.
"I remember one time he had an incident where he was taking a plane from Montgomery to Harrisburg to be serviced down there.
"He was down past Selinsgrove when the engine failed. John landed the aircraft in field with very difficult terrain, it was a crowned field that was also sloped to the west and he managed to put it down without any power and not a scratch on it," Frey said.
In 2011, LaRose transferred to the staff services section of the Montoursville-based state police. He became the staff service sections supervisor in early 2012 and later that year became Emporium station commander.
"That was just the kind of man he was, very calm guy, kept cool under pressure," he added.
LaRose was a dedicated sports fan and spent many years working with youth sports.
He had coached baseball, was involved in the elementary wrestling program, and sat on the board of the Muncy youth football program.
Jamie Brelsford, deputy chief of the Muncy Area Volunteer Fire Co., is a long time friend of the LaRose family. He described the commander as an "all-around great guy."