HUDSON - Hudson volunteer fire chief Greg Clingan's death Thursday in a fiery traffic crash leaves a huge void in his community's emergency response crews. Clingan was the chief of the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department, as well as a reserve deputy officer with the Hudson Town Marshal's Office and a part-time emergency medical technician with the Steuben County EMS service.
Clingan died in a fiery crash early Thursday morning on Interstate 69 near Flint, Mich. He was driving a tanker truck filled with liquid propane for Sheets LP Gas in Angola, according to a report from the Michigan State Police.
Ward Odom, Hudson's town marshal and town manager, said Clingan was an easy-going guy.
A week ago, Clingan briefed Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, on a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency grant awarded to the Hudson department to purchase new firefighting equipment, Odom said.
At a recent house fire, Clingan was the first firefighter on the scene, Odom said.
Aware that children lived in the residence, Clingan's first concern was making sure they were out of the home, Odom said. "Once he determined the kids were out of the house, he went ahead and did his chief stuff," Odom said.
Thursday's crash is still under investigation, but some pieces of information may remain undiscovered because of the nature of the explosion and fire, Michigan State Police Sgt. Jeff Bauermeister said.
The truck went off the highway, struck a guardrail near an exit ramp and plunged 35 feet to a CSX railroad area, the police report said.
The tanker exploded, spreading debris and significantly damaging the overpass and the exit ramp, according to the report. When it went off the highway, the truck landed in an area protected by high walls of dirt - which shielded the highway from more serious damage, Bauermeister said.
While the preliminary cause of death has been listed as carbon monoxide poisoning, there is evidence Clingan may have suffered a heart attack before the crash, Bauermeister said.
Odom said Clingan appeared to be in good health. Odom said it will be near impossible for the fire department - now at 17 members - to replace Clingan's experience and dedication.
"I'm sure that somebody will step in, but he leaves some very big shoes," Odom said.