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GAUGHAN v. COMMONWEALTH (09/15/66)

decided: September 15, 1966.

GAUGHAN
v.
COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Sept. T., 1965, No. 669, in case of Mary M. Gaughan, widow of Robert Gaughan, deceased, v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Police et al.

COUNSEL

S. John Cottone, Associate Counsel, with him Thomas E. Roberts, Chief Counsel, Raymond Kleiman, Deputy Attorney General, and Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Harry P. O'Neill, Jr., for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J.

Author: Hoffman

[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 407]

This is an appeal from an order of the lower court affirming a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Board granting compensation benefits to claimant, Mary M. Gaughan, widow of Robert Gaughan, and her minor children.

Robert Gaughan, age 40, had been employed as a trooper in the Pennsylvania State Police for seventeen years. On December 12, 1963, he reported to work and was instructed to investigate an automobile accident. At the scene of the accident, Gaughan discovered that several persons, two of whom were close acquaintances, had been seriously injured in a two car collision which had occurred on Route 6 close to the intersection leading to the Shadowbrook Country Club.

Gaughan was the only police officer at this accident. Visibility at that hour was poor, and the road was slippery. Testimony reveals that Gaughan attempted to direct the flow of traffic on both Route 6 and the intersection leading toward the country club. At the same time he was questioning witnesses, measuring skid

[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 408]

    marks, and providing care for the injured. In addition he was called upon to disconnect a blaring horn in one of the damaged cars and to raise the hood on another. One witness testified that, "He just kept dashing back and forth from one car to the other and trying to direct traffic." Another witness testified that, "He seemed very concerned and was very active and very busy, involved in all the running back and forth from one car to the other." A third stated that, "He was running from one car to another to find out whether anybody had been injured." While Gaughan was engaged in these almost frenetic activities, the ambulance, which should have arrived in five minutes, did not appear for twenty to twenty-five minutes.

A Dr. Rhineheimer, who was also aiding those injured in the collision, testified that before the ambulance came, Gaughan complained to him of a "squeezing feeling" in the chest. Both Dr. Rhineheimer and a Dr. Goldstein, who testified for appellant, agreed that Gaughan was suffering a heart attack at that moment. Nonetheless, Gaughan remained on duty at the scene of the accident until the injured parties were removed by ambulance. He then returned to the police station where he died several minutes later.

In an appeal from the Workmen's Compensation Board, if there is competent and substantial evidence in the record to sustain the findings of the board, such findings are conclusive and cannot be disturbed by the Court. Angermier v. Hubley Manufacturing Co., 206 Pa. Superior Ct. 422, 427, 213 A.2d 171, 174 (1965). The Board in the instant case found that, "the demise of this decedent was caused by the unusual physical exertion he exerted in the discharge of his duties."

It is well settled that an injury resulting from overexertion or unusual or extraordinary exertion in the course of employment is an "accident" within the meaning ...


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