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Thread: Benedict, Nebraska Volunteer Firefighter Dies in Line of Duty

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    Benedict, Nebraska Volunteer Firefighter Dies in Line of Duty

    Benedict, Nebraska Volunteer Firefighter Dies in Line of Duty


    Updated: 02-28-2005 04:34:08 PM
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    MELANIE WILKINSON
    Courtesy of The York News Times

    BENEDICT -- For what may be the first time in York County history, a firefighter has died in the line of duty.

    According to information from York Fire Chief Kevin Stuhr representing York County Mutual Aid, Michael Aunkst, 45, of Benedict, died early Sunday morning after having an apparent heart attack while working at the scene of a fire in rural Gresham.

    Stuhr explained that Waco, Benedict and Gresham crews were dispatched to a barn fire at 1910 Road 24, at approximately 12:20 a.m. While responding to the fire, Aunkst suffered a heart attack and was transported by the Gresham crew to Highway 81 where they were met by York Advanced Life Support. Together, the two squads transferred Aunkst to York General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

    Members of local mutual aid have provided a round-the-clock vigil since the time of his death, with a firefighter remaining with the body at all times until interment, Stuhr said, as is protocol when a firefighter dies in this manner.

    Funeral Arrangements: Funeral services will be held Wednesday, March 2 at 3 p.m. at the Benedict School Gym with LeRoy Hoyer PMA officiating.

    Burial will be in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Benedict.

    Memorials may be directed to the family or to the memorial fund that has been established at all York County banks. Metz Mortuary of York is handling arrangements and condolences may be emailed to the family at metz@metzmortuary.com.

    Aunkst is survived by his wife Teresa, his daughter Liza and his stepson Dustin Welch all at home in Benedict; his mother Helen Aunkst of Aztec, NM; 10 brothers and sisters, John, Mary Ann, Jim, Patty, Arlene Carpenter, Dave, Carl, Patrick, Robert and Shawn, his father and mother-in-law Larry and Phyllis Schall, his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Jeff Schall, Jody Schall, Audrey Schneider, Joyce Rhodes and Jay Schall, and many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were his father, niece Lindsey and Uncle Al.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...3&sectionId=39

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    Benedict fireman remembered

    First in-line-of-duty death occurs in York County firefighting history

    By Melanie Wilkinson
    staff writer
    BENEDICT -- They remember him as a hard working man who believed in his community. He was a man who gave it his all when it came to protecting his neighbors, their property, and most of all, his own family.

    Early Sunday morning, nearing 1 a.m., Aunkst was with his fellow volunteers from Benedict, Waco and Gresham, at a barn fire in the rural Gresham area, when he suffered a heart attack. The married father of two was taken by Gresham Rescue to Highway 81, where they met York Fire and Rescue after calling for their assistance and what rescue workers term as "Advanced Life Support." He was taken to York General Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward, according to York Fire Chief Kevin Stuhr, who is representing York County Mutual Aid.

    Stuhr says it appears this is the first time a firefighter has died in the line of duty in this jurisdiction. Because of the situation, an around-the-clock vigil was immediately established, he said, with a York County firefighter remaining with the body at all times, until interment. Stuhr, visibly moved, said at least one of Aunkst's peers has remained as such since the time of death, and will continue to do so "every minute, every day, through the funeral." Such protocol is activated when such a tragedy occurs, he explained.

    Becky Kramer, a member of the Benedict Volunteer Fire Department and their secretary, says Aunkst was always a valuable part of their effort and of the community.



    Aunkst was always active in his community, and worked hard to promote the fire department, as seen here in 2003.
    "This is such a tragedy," she said. "We so feel for his family."

    Kramer said Aunkst has "always been there for the fire department, has always been such a great volunteer. He was always willing to train and do anything he could -- as long as it didn't interfere with his children's school activities and family events. That was always his first priority. He so loved his children. He was a great guy to have on the department. We're truly sad. What a tragedy to lose someone like Mike, so young . . ."

    Kramer said the flag at the department was immediately lowered to half mast, as were a number of flags throughout the community, in his honor.

    Aunkst was an employee at Even Temp in Waco, a former employee of Champion Home Builders of York, and was also employed by Valentino's Pizza in York. He was the husband of Teresa, the father of Liza, and the step-father of Dustin Welch, all living at home.

    A memorial fund for Aunkst's family has been established at all four York banks -- York State, Cornerstone, Midwest and Union Bank and Trust -- according to Pam Lundy with the Fire Fighters Association.

    While details are still being worked out, Stuhr said he expects that area departments will honor Aunkst with an official presence at his funeral.

    "That is to be consistent with the family's wishes," Stuhr said. "Above all, we want to honor their wishes, what they want. At the same time, we want to honor our fallen hero. This is the last thing we ever want to see -- it has happened, and we will do all we can to help the family, and honor the spirit of Mike."

    Funeral services will be held Wednesday, March 2, at 3 p.m., at the Benedict School Gym with LeRoy Hoyer PMA officiating. Burial will be at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Benedict. Metz Mortuary of York is handling arrangements.


    http://yorknewstimes.com/stories/030...ireman01.shtml

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    Aunkst, Michael

    Age: 45
    Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Heart Attack
    Classification: Volunteer
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 02/27/2005
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 00:20
    Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
    Death Date: 02/27/2005
    Fixed Prop. Use: Industry

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Benedict Volunteer Fire Department
    101 Elmer Avenue
    Benedict , Nebraska 68316
    Chief: Brian Quick

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Aunkst was operating at the scene of a barn fire when he collapsed from an apparent heart attack. Care was initiated and he was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    Memorials may be directed to the family or to the memorial fund that has been established at all York County banks. Metz Mortuary of York is handling arrangements and condolences may be emailed to the family at metz@metzmortuary.com.

    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/application...eath_year=2005

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