UPDATE: Lehigh County Coroner Dan Buglio said Tuesday that his office’s determination is that John Kalynych died of natural causes. “I would like John’s family to continue to grieve privately as they cope with the sudden and unexpected death of John, (and) for that reason, I am not releasing the cause of death at this time,” Buglio said in a news release.
The death of Lower Saucon Fire Rescue Safety Officer John Kalynych over the weekend has triggered an outpouring of sympathy from Saucon Valley to Harrisburg, where Gov. Josh Shapiro Monday ordered that flags in Northampton County be flown at half-staff in his honor.
Shapiro tweeted that Kalynych “passed away in the line of duty while serving Pennsylvanians,” however his cause of death has not been disclosed.
The governor said that he and his wife were sending prayers to Kalynych’s family and loved ones.
John Kalynych, a firefighter with Lower Saucon Fire Rescue in Bethlehem, passed away in the line of duty while serving Pennsylvanians yesterday. ⁰ ⁰I've ordered our flags to fly at half-staff in Northampton County in his honor.⁰ ⁰Lori and I are sending our prayers to his…— Governor Josh Shapiro (@GovernorShapiro) August 28, 2023
Kalynych, who was 50 and lived in Hellertown according to information on his public Facebook profile, was past deputy chief of the Catasauqua Fire Department and had served in various other roles throughout an emergency management and fire safety career that spanned more than 30 years.
Lower Saucon Fire Rescue remembered him in a tribute on the department’s Facebook page Sunday, in which colleagues noted that he began his career as a firefighter and EMT in the late 1980s.
“John was passionate and dedicated to training and not only served his departments on the local level, he traveled around the region as a Fire/Rescue Instructor for Bucks County Community College,” the post said. “John’s experience and knowledge was in not only firefighting, but technical rescue and hazardous materials.”
“John was a proud father,” it noted. “In addition to his sons, he was a friend and mentor to hundreds of emergency responders across the state.”
Other positions Kalynych held during his long career included leadership roles with Hanover and Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire companies, former Chief of Special Operations (Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response) with Lehigh County Emergency Management and Director of Emergency Management in Lehigh County, according to various sources.
LehighValleyNews.com reported that an autopsy is scheduled to be performed Tuesday and that Lehigh County Coroner Dan Buglio was a close friend of Kalynych’s.
The report stated that Kalynych was the father of two boys, and noted that his family has asked for privacy via a fire company spokesperson.
Lehigh Valley Live’s report on Kalynych’s passing included an aerial photo of a procession of emergency vehicles outside the Lehigh County Coroner’s office, which it said escorted him from St. Luke’s Hospital in Fountain Hill following his death there early Sunday.
Funeral services are pending and arrangements will be announced at a later date, the Lower Saucon Fire Rescue Post indicated.