Longtime Pennsylvania news anchor, 42, fatally struck by train, death ruled a suicide, coroner says

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

A beloved Pennsylvania news anchor fatally struck by a train earlier this week died by suicide, according to the Erie County Coroner’s Office.

Erie News Now anchor Emily Matson, 42, “died unexpectedly” on Monday, according to her obituary shared by Dusckas-Martin Funeral Home. She was reportedly struck by a train in Fairview, Pennsylvania, where she lived. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook confirmed to Fox News Digital that Matson’s death was ruled a suicide and remains under investigation. 

A journalist for Erie News Now for nearly two decades, she had anchored the 7 p.m. news in recent years with her dear friend, John Stehlin.

“What you all saw at 7pm was genuine, honest reactions between longtime friends. Nothing was staged. You can tell we barely read our scripts. It led to a lot of laughter and off topic shenanigans. We got in trouble because somedays we didn’t have enough time to say goodbye at the end of the show,” Stehlin wrote in a heartbreaking tribute on Facebook. 

“I do not need to tell you that Emily was a beautiful person. Nor, do I need to tell you she was hard working and a true professional,” Stehlin said, sharing a photo of him and Matson smiling in the parking lot. “Each night, you saw the real Emily. Nothing fake about her. We had dinner together, attended community events, and often met in the weather center for some good old fashion talk. It also led to 3am text messages – mostly funny social media posts and silly gab.”

“Her last text to me was on Friday. It had me in stitches through the weekend and definitely not suitable for TV,” he shared. “After the show last Friday, I thought I’d see her again. I said, ‘Have a nice weekend.’ Like the end of many of our shows, we truly didn’t have enough time to say goodbye. I will miss Emily.”

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A funeral mass is scheduled at St. Jude the Apostle Church in Erie on Saturday. 

In another heartbreaking tribute, her mother, Patricia Matson, shared photos of her and her daughter on Facebook Tuesday. Emily, seen smiling and holding a glass of wine, was photographed stirring a mixing bowl next to tomato sauce. 

“Teaching emily how to make sauce and lasagna last friday. she was so happy and proud,” Patricia Matson wrote. “She wanted her picture taken to show her brother travis that she made lasagna just for him! (Her sister does not like it.. she got a grilled ham and cheese…lol) I mentioned getting her a lasagna pan for Christmas and she said she would love a lasagna pan for Christmas! I forgot to send travis this picture so now I’ll share with all of you.” 

Matson was remembered by Erie News Now news director Scott MacDowell as “different, fun, transparent, outspoken and a spectacular journalist.”

Matson had a presence “that made the good days great and the tough days tolerable,” MacDowell said in a statement to People. “Every station has a few people that are the true fabric of what a newsroom represents,” he said, adding of Matson that, “She was one of those people. Our fabric.”

Erie News Now, where Matson had worked for nearly 20 years, released a separate statement on behalf of Lilly Broadcasting confirming her passing on Monday. 

“It is with a very heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of our beloved Erie News Now news anchor Emily Matson,” Lilly Broadcasting wrote. “Emily was a shining light in our newsroom, delivering news with a passion and love she had for the Erie community and Northwest Pennsylvania. We loved Emily dearly and our hearts go out to the Matson family and her husband Ryan at this time.”

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Emily Matson’s daughter, Emily Onderko, also shared a photo on Facebook of the two smiling on a beach, writing of her late mother, “The most beautiful person I know, inside and out.” 

Christyn Allen, an anchor for WVLT in Nashville, shared a selfie of her and Matson smiling together at the news desk, writing, “I made it to where I am because of you. I’ll miss you forever, Emily.”

“My sweet role model, friend, and sister. Please pray for my Erie family as we cope with the loss of Emily,” Allen wrote in another Facebook post, sharing Matson’s obituary. 

Patricia Matson also shared another photo of Emily and her husband, Ryan, as they sat together smiling at a table during a past vacation in Cabo San Lucas. 

An online obituary says the 42-year-old Matson was preceded in death by her daughter, Kayla Onderko, her beloved cousin Tricia McAndrew, her maternal grandparents, William P. (Bill) and Mary Alice (“GG”) McAndrew, and her paternal grandparents, John T. (Jack) and Genevieve (Jean) Matson.

“Known among her colleagues as a leader in the newsroom, Emily was an award-winning producer, reporter, and anchor for both local and international news broadcasts from the Lilly Broadcasting studios. She’ll be remembered professionally for her commitment to community reporting and the great joy she derived from telling stories that impacted the lives of those whose stories she told, as well as her viewers,” the obituary says. 

“Alongside her husband, Ryan, Emily loved the company of family, and a great crew of close friends, especially Jesse and Mike (Fuzzy) Armant, traveling throughout the United States and abroad, attending concerts and events, and boating on Lake Erie. Emily also loved and celebrated the years she spent helping to raise their children, Kyle and Emily. And just this year, she welcomed a new addition to her family by opening their home to Mathew Shaeffer, a young Erie Otter’s player.”

“In addition, Emily could not see an animal in need without stepping in,” the obituary continued, “resulting in the adoption of several dogs, chickens, and a cat over the years. In the days since Emily’s passing, many have reflected how she brightened each space she entered, providing endless light and warmth to those who surrounded her as well as those who casually crossed her path.” 

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