JIM THORPE, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania borough council member has died of complications stemming from injuries in a house fire that killed his wife almost a year ago, authorities said
Thomas Highland, 61, was pronounced dead Friday at Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest, the Lehigh County coroner’s office said Saturday. The death was ruled accidental and attributed to complications from inhalation injuries in the fire.
The coroner’s office is investigating along with the Jim Thorpe police and fire departments and a state police fire marshal.
The fire was reported shortly before 5:30 a.m. on May 30 in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County. Highland’s wife, Lynn was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Thomas Highland, who escaped through the basement, was taken to the Lehigh Valley Burn Center in Allentown with extensive burns, The Times-News of Lehighton reported.
The two-term Democrat on the Jim Thorpe borough council had run in the May primary election seeking a third term on the seven-member board. He returned to the council in January, the top vote-getter in the November general election with 861 votes.
“Words can’t express how grateful I am for everything people have done for me,” Highland said in January, the newspaper reported. “I love the people of Jim Thorpe from the bottom of my heart. It’s been so overwhelming.”
Highland Beverages, where Thomas Highland was a principal partner, posted a tribute on its Facebook page Saturday morning.
“If the value of a human being is based solely upon how loved and cherished you are by your friends and family, Tom was one of the richest men around,” the company said. “Your smile and your giving heart will be missed. You will be missed.”