Compared to police officers or firemen, being an HVAC service tech should not be a dangerous job. In fact, if a tech follows proper safety procedures he or she might find their jobs to be extremely safe. But sometimes things get out of whack and a tech has no control over a situation he/she finds himself/herself in.

That’s what happened with 42-year-old service tech Carl Tomberlain, an employee of Petro Oil in Southampton, Pa., on the evening of Wednesday, November 7. Tomberlain was responding to a no-heat call from Temple University students but when he got no response after visiting the home, he returned to his truck. That’s when something went very wrong - possibly a robbery attempt - and Tomberlain was shot to death.

Police are still trying to determine the motive, which may not have been robbery; and they are looking for two suspects.

In the meantime, Tomberlain’s death has opened a large void in the lives of his wife and two daughters, ages 16 and 10. I doubt that they find any solace in the fact that their father and husband died while doing his job. No HVAC technician should die doing his or her job, especially from a bullet.

I’ve done stories on contractors who refuse to send their techs into dangerous neighborhoods at night or who send two techs to a job that would normally require one because of the “seedy” surroundings. Tomberlain was working alone, trying to make extra money to give his family a better Christmas. Now instead of exchanging gifts, the daughters and wife must exchange memories of this man who supported his family.

A fund has been established by Petro to help out the family. Please see it in your heart to help them out this holiday season. To donate, send a check or money order to: Carl Tomberlain Benefit Account c/o Bob Gussoni, 650 Knowles Ave., Southampton, PA 18966.[Editor's Note: An earlier version had the incorrect state. We regret this error.]