Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees revealed the identity of the Johnstown man who died after falling into a creek near his home.
Lees says 85-year-old Howard Moench fell around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and he died around 4:30 Thursday morning.
It’s truly a scary and heartbreaking situation.
Howard’s home is just a few steps away from Cherry Creek where he reportedly fell 8.5 feet.
Orange meshing was put up along the creek as a warning but his family says he fell right through it before passing away 11 hours later.
It was the first day in 38 years that Carrie Moench didn’t have her husband, Howard, by her side.
“We’ve been married since 1984 and he’s the love of my life, Nobody should have to go through this.”
Authorities say Wednesday evening, Howard fell 8.5 feet, to the bottom of the creek beside his home.
He died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, a stone throw away from their home, 11 hours later.
“I had the nurse hold the phone up to his head so I could tell him that I loved him,” Carrie said.
Carrie’s sister, Janice Sutherland, witnessed Howard slip and fall from a distance right before he waved ‘hello’ to her.
“It was a horrible, horrible thing to see, and it should have never happened,” Sutherland said.
Cherry Run stretches off Akers Street running alongside their home.
With orange mesh, wooden sticks and some bushes the only thing standing in the way of a nearly nine-foot cliff.
Some areas have no type of barrier at all.
Kevin Houston showed us where Howard was found after attempting to rescue the 85-year-old.
“I jumped down there the best way I could, I had to hang onto that tree. I had to go down there. It didn’t feel right just seeing him lay there.”
Kevin says he held Howard and talked to him until the first responders arrived.
“He was talking about his pants,” Houston said. “He was like, my favorite pants. I’m like, ‘Howard, we’re going to get you new pants. We’ll get the same exact pants over again.’ He was a good guy with a good sense of humor.”
Howard’s family is working to heal emotionally from something that could have been prevented and hold those responsible, if anyone, accountable.
“Now, because of a senseless act of the city or somebody not putting a barrier up he would not have fallen if they had a fence up,” Carrie said with tears in her eyes. “He would still be alive.”
6 News reached out to multiple Johnstown city officials and the assistant city manager wrote back to us saying, “the city is investigating the issue and has no further details to provide at this time.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also said they could not provide a comment because they need more details.
We reached out to Beard Legal Group who represents the City of Johnstown, but they advised us to keep reaching out to the city.