Coroner: Former Lehigh County emergency management head died from natural causes

  • John Kalynych, well-known firefighter, EMT, and emergency services expert, died on Sunday at age 50.
  • Lehigh County Coroner Dan Buglio declared his manner of death as natural on Tuesday, but did not release the cause of death.
  • The coroner said he withheld the information to give the family a chance to “grieve privately.”

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The death of John Kalynych, Lehigh County’s former director of emergency management and a teacher in Pennsylvania’s emergency services sector was ruled natural by Lehigh County Coroner Dan Buglio.
He released his findings on Kalynych’s recent death Tuesday afternoon in a media release.

Buglio said Kalynych was pronounced dead at 6:39 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27 at St. Luke’s University Hospital’s main campus in Fountain Hill. He also noted that he would not release the cause of death at this time, citing privacy concerns for Kalynych’s family.

“An autopsy was completed today on John Kalynych. I am ruling the manner of death as natural. I have made contact with John’s family, I discussed the autopsy results with them and again offered my heartfelt condolences. I would like John’s family to continue to grieve privately as they cope with the sudden and unexpected death of John, for that reason, I am not releasing the cause of death at this time. I ask that you please respect and understand my decision.”

Dan Buglio, Lehigh County Coroner and close friend of firefighter John Kalynych, in a media release.

“An autopsy was completed today on John Kalynych. I am ruling the manner of death as natural,” Buglio said. “I have made contact with John’s family, I discussed the autopsy results with them and again offered my heartfelt condolences.”

Buglio previously told LehighValleyNews.com that he was a close friend of Kalynych’s for over 15 years.

“I would like John’s family to continue to grieve privately as they cope with the sudden and unexpected death of John, for that reason, I am not releasing the cause of death at this time. I ask that you please respect and understand my decision,” he said.

Kalynych was an experienced firefighter in the Lehigh Valley, whose career reached all levels of government. He began working in emergency services in the 1980s as an EMT and firefighter, eventually became known for his calm, in-control manner of handling emergencies. He was appointed to an urban search and rescue team that operated federally through FEMA.

On Monday, Governor Josh Shapiro ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in Kalynych’s honor in Northampton County. Shapiro also described the former emergency manager’s death as being “in the line of duty” before Buglio’s incomplete autopsy results were released.

Buglio would not confirm or “speculate” on any details of the death at that time.

Kalynych is survived by his family, including two sons, whom friends said are now firefighters following in their dad’s footsteps.

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