The community of Elkton is mourning the loss of one of its volunteer firefighters.
On Saturday afternoon, the Elkton Fire Department responded to a controlled burn that got out of the hand. One of the fire trucks got stuck, and as firefighters used a tow rope to pull the engine out of the mud, the rope snapped and went through the windshield.
38 year old Tom Kuehl was inside. He suffered a severe head injury, was air lifted to Sioux Valley hospital in Sioux Falls and died Tuesday morning. According to family, he went though a surgery to stabalize his brain. Doctors say there was a slim chance he'd be able to live a normal life again. His family was forced to make what they're calling a very difficult decision to take him off life support. They did and he died Tuesday morning at Sioux Valley hospital in Sioux Falls.
Many people in Elkton know Tom Kuehl, also known as "Emmet." He was always involved in the community. Students at the high school remember him for shaving his head after the team made it to the state championship. He wasn't married and never had any children, but family members say he loved his nieces and nephews and spending time with his family.
The presence of Emmet can still be felt at the Elkton Fire Hall... And throughout the entire community.
His fire hat is sitting on top of his locker. A few jackets with markings of ash hang on the hooks. His fire chief, Ryan Bebensee says he will always be remembered as a hard worker.
Bebensee says, "He was willing to serve on anything. He'd help anybody out. He was a good friend."
While he had many friends, he also had many passions like riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle, or getting behind the wheel of one of the fire trucks. When the fire bell rang, Emmet was always the first one to respond. It's something he'll always be remembered for.
Bebensee says, "Anytime we had a call, anytime of day, its hard to beat him here. You could be a block away and he could be three blocks away and he'd still beat you here."
His fire chief says Emmet would do whatever it took to get to the scene quickly.
He says, "We had an ambulance call, it was either real early in the morning, or middle of the night. I showed up, he was already here, had just pulled in, jumped out of his car, had his pants in his hand, in his underwear. He hadn't gotten dressed yet. He got dressed in the fire hall before we took off."
The department says they'll miss Emmet's quick response to the call of duty, but they'll miss him the most.
Bebensee says, "Emmet was Emmet. If you knew him, you'd know what I mean. He just kinda lived by his own rules and kinda proud of it and everybody like him for that."
Emmet worked full time at Twin City Fan in Elkton. He was also in charge of the local ambulance service. His fellow firefighters cleaned up his motorcycle so it could be used as part of his funeral on Thursday.
Emmet Kuehl leaves behind several brothers and a sister. His funeral will be held Thursday afternoon at 1:30 in the Elkton High School Gymnasium.
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Thread: South Dakota Fire Fighter Killed
04-14-2006, 12:11 PM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- South Dakota
South Dakota Fire Fighter KilledIf you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, Then baffle them with your bull****.
04-14-2006, 04:43 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
Rest in peace my brother......My prayers are with the family and friends.Stay Safe and live long
04-14-2006, 05:03 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
May you rest in peace my brother and to family and friends may God be with you.
04-15-2006, 08:58 AM #4
Rest in peace brother, To all of his family and friends my sympanthies and condolences go out to you all.
Captain Steve Williams
04-15-2006, 11:22 AM #5
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!
Talk about a freak accident
My condolences to the Elkton Fire Department and the Kuehl family for their tragic loss.
Sleep with angels, TomSeptember 11th - Never Forget
I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.
IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
RAY WAS HERE FIRST
04-17-2006, 11:23 PM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2004
- Central IN
Rest in Peace, BrotherIACOJ Rookie
04-17-2006, 11:33 PM #7
04-18-2006, 05:17 PM #8
A very unfortunate incident indeed, but certainly not a freak accident. Wish we knew the whole story. Was there any metal attached to the end of that tow rope? A clevis? Chain? I find it a bit unlikely that the rope alone came through the windshield. I can cite numerous horror stories of farmers who have used a tow rope in conjunction with a log chain, steel clevis or steel hook. The results in some cases have been similar to the above while others have ended in only an expensive and scary lesson. In my opinion a tow rope should never be used with anything metal attached to the end of it.
04-18-2006, 07:36 PM #9
- Join Date
- Dec 1998
- Black Hawk VFD, South Dakota
Here is the story from the USFA Firefighter Fatality Notices. Although I live in South Dakota, I couldn't attend the service due to the distance involved (about 400 miles).
I am making an assumption that part of the clevis was still attached to the rope.
May he rest in peace.
On 04/08/06 at approximately 1600hrs, the Elkton Fire Department was summoned to a controlled burn that had escaped its boundaries and appeared to be threatening neighboring property. During the firefighting activities, the truck Firefighter Kuehl was driving became stuck. A tractor was obtained in an effort to assist in getting the truck unstuck. A clevis attached to the tractor broke and the tow rope recoiled through the truck's windshield and struck Firefighter Kuehl's head. Firefighter Kuehl was taken by ambulance to a Brookings, SD Hospital and then airlifted to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. Kuehl died of the injuries he received on 04/11/2006. Funeral: 04/13/2006, 1330hrs (CDT) at the Elkton Public School, 508 Buffalo Street, Elkton, SD.
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