Too early. Too tragically.
This best describes the death of Derrick Ometz, 45, of Mechanicsburg, who died of injuries sustained in a skiing accident at Roundtop Mountain Resort in York County on February 20.
Ometz was in supervisory management and a program analyst at Naval Supply System Command in Mechanicsburg. He is survived by Allison, his wife of 23 years, daughter Alexia, husband Seth and son Elijah.
Derrick is a graduate of Penn State University and began his career as a meteorologist at abc27.
“It’s such a shock, just awful,” said Mick O’Hearn, who was a fellow meteorologist at abc27. “I remember him as an affable young man with a great sense of humor. And he was working with us when his daughter was born. He was so thrilled,” O’Hearn said of Ometz, which aired on abc27 from 1999 to 2004.
“His priorities were faith, family and career. As soon as you met him, you knew it,” said longtime abc27 forecaster Chuck Rhodes, who is now retired but hired Ometz out of college.
Indeed, faith was a priority for Ometz who was a member of First United Methodist Church in Mechanicsburg, serving in the music ministry, on the church board, and as an usher.
“He was one of the brightest, nicest guys I’ve ever worked with,” added Rhodes, saying Ometz was especially good with computers and the latest weather graphics systems. Rhodes said Ometz made the machines do things that even the manufacturer’s reps didn’t know they could do. “He brought us to the forefront of weather computing and graphics almost single-handedly.”
After leaving abc27, Ometz continued in the IT field, first at Prelude Services of Mechanicsburg for 12 years before landing at NAVSUP.
But her favorite job was husband and dad.
“I did a double take when I saw the news,” Rhodes said of Ometz’s passing. ” It’s so sad. He was in his prime and a great family man.
In a statement, the parent company of Roundtop Mountain Resort “confirmed with regret a serious incident”. He added, “The Vail Resorts family expresses its deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of our guests.”
But Rhodes, always a comedian, shared two funny stories that he and Derrick often laughed at.
The first involved Ometz entering the company and Chuck helping him overcome his nervousness over television forecasts. Ometz had been the drum major of the Penn State Blue Band in 1996-97.
“I said, so you run on the football field in front of 100,000 people? He said yes. I said you do a forward somersault and land on your feet at the 50-yard line? He said yes. I said, so local TV is going to be a breeze,” Rhodes said with a laugh.
He added that it had become a running gag with Derrick offering to show Chuck how to do that front flip and the veteran forecaster always saying he was too busy.
One of Ometz’s first public speaking engagements also made them laugh. The group introduced the new, young forecaster as Gary Gomez, instead of Derrick Ometz.
It’s stuck. The weather team, which also included Rob Dixon, often called Ometz Gary Gomez. Chuck still laughs thinking about it.
A visitation and funeral service was held in Mechanicsburg this past weekend.