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Published September 23 2012

Duluth pathologist dies in Wyoming plane crash

DULUTH, Minn. – Officials in northeastern Minnesota are mourning a longtime Duluth pathologist and deputy St. Louis County medical examiner who died in a plane crash in Wyoming.

Dr. Donald Kundel was flying to Wyoming to meet up with his son Friday when his single-engine homebuilt RV-7A plane crashed at the Laramie airport. He was 79.

Kolleen Kennedy, chief investigator in the medical examiner’s office, told the Duluth News Tribune for a story published Sunday that Kundel had just finished treatment for bowel cancer.

“He’d gone through chemo and they said, ‘You’re clear,’ ” Kennedy said. “He was going to Laramie to celebrate, to go bird hunting with his son.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Kennedy said family members told her Kundel had been cleared to land when the crash occurred. She says someone on the ground heard the engine stop.

“We all had the utmost regard for him,” said St. Louis County Medical Examiner Thomas Uncini, who essentially swapped roles with Kundel in 2000. “He was a great guy, easy to work with, full of energy. ... He’s going to be missed.”

“He was a tremendous man. My goodness, what a loss,” St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said.

At the time of his death, Uncini said, Kundel was handling about a half-time workload. As recently as Thursday, Kundel testified in a murder case involving a fatal fight outside a Proctor bar last year.