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Police ID victim found in burned car in Toad Creek

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:13:38 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 05 2014 10:47:14 AM CDT

Police ID body pulled from burning car

TOPTON, Pa. -

Police have identified the person found inside a burning vehicle in a creek Sunday in Topton.

It was Kathryn Ercolino, 71, of Quakertown.

"I was shocked. If you wake up and there is a dead person in your yard, it is very shocking," said Robert Blanchard of Topton.

The Topton Fire Company was called out around 5:15 Sunday morning to a brush fire near Toad Creek and Topton Community Park.

But, when they arrived on scene, they found a vehicle fully engulfed in flames, with a body inside.

"I do not know. I just do not understand what happened. It is just weird to me. To find in your town that there is a dead body in a car, it is scary. There are a lot of kids around here," said Allison Hunter of Topton.

State Police say Ercolino somehow got disoriented and ended up in Toad Creek.

Police say residents heard a motor racing overnight. Fire experts later examined the vehicle and determined that the catalytic converter heated up and started the fire.

But they still do not know how she ended up roughly 40 minutes from her home or why she would drive down the grassy pathway and land in the creek.

"How did a car even get there? It is not even possible to even by accident land there if you were going fast," said Michelle Lorah of Topton.

Police believe this was an accidental death.

But the death concerned some people as they relived the recent heroin activity in their small town.

"I know a lot of people are ready to move because they just cannot deal with it anymore. I think they need to bring the police force back," said Hunter.

The autopsy determined Ercolino died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.