Remembering Amerine

The Tyrone and Altoona communities remember Officer Christopher Amerine, just days after a heart attack ended his life.

In a statement released by the Altoona Police Department on Sunday, Jan. 19, Amerine was described as a devoted husband, father and family man.

“There are no words that can adequately express our sorrow for Chris’ loss.”

Amerine died after suffering a sudden medical emergency while playing basketball with friends. It was later confirmed by Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross that Amerine, 44, died of a heart attack.

Amerine was employed by the Tyrone Police Department and Altoona Area School District. He was hired as a part-time officer in Tyrone in May of 2012. Chief of Police John R. Romeo credits Amerine with always having presented a very positive image of a police officer.

“Officer Amerine had good communication skills and his ability to work with Youths in the Community was readily apparent,” Officer Romeo said. “Officer Amerine showed keen interest in his work as a borough officer, often working weekends and off shifts at short notice to assist in the functions of the police department.”

Tyrone Mayor William Fink feels that Amerine embodied the characteristics of a good police officer and community member.

“You could always tell by the smile on his face that he was full of caring, and that’s important when you’re wearing the uniform,” Mayor Fink said. “He was very interactive with the members of both the Tyrone and Altoona communities, which was a good indication that he was very involved in the lives of young folks. He was a very impressive individual.

Paula Foreman, the Altoona Area spokeswoman, released a statement on behalf of the district on Monday. In addition to working closely with Amerine for the school district, Foreman also considered Amerine a friend.

“He felt strongly about the students and wanted to affect them not only as an officer but also as a role model,” Foreman said. [The officers] are a constant presence and a regular influence in our school. Chris was personable and he took the time to talk and listen to the students.”

In the statement released by Forman, many of the same sentiments about Amerine’s dedication to his job and his family were echoed.

“Officer Amerine had a unique way of bringing life and levity to any gathering. He took pride in his work, holding others to the same standards and expectations he set for himself. But most importantly was the role model he provided as a husband and father to his wife and children. They were his motivation for his career. His dedication to serving his family, the Altoona community, the Altoona School District and the Tyrone community is one that will not be easily replaced.”

Tyrone resident Bryan Diehl knew Amerine from testing with Altoona Police Department as well as working with him in the Tyrone Police Department.

“He was a great influence for me with starting my career in law enforcement,” said Diehl. “I saw him around Christmas-time at the Logan Valley Mall and asked if I could use him as a reference when applying for law enforcement positions. I was shocked when I read the news on Facebook via Altoona Police Department’s page. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this tough time.”

The staff at Baker Elementary School, where Amerine’s wife works, set up a donation site to provide support for his wife and children. Their goal is to raise $20,000, with over $10,000 raised to date. Donations can be made to his memorial fund.

Friends will be received from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Santella Funeral Home, where a vigil for the deceased will be held. Friends will also be received from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, where a funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Committal will be held at Calvary Cemetery.

-Spring 2014/Internship at The Daily Herald

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