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Thread: Affton Fire Chief Killed In Accident

  1. #1
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    Affton Fire Chief Killed In Accident

    Affton Fire Chief Killed In Accident

    By Rebecca Wu

    (KSDK) - Police and firefighters across the area are mourning the fire chief in Affton.

    Chief Jerry Buehne died Thursday morning when a driver fleeing from police lost control and crashed into his car.

    It started when police say a man stole some merchandise from a Walgreens store at the corner of Gravois and Sappington.

    It ended about four miles away with the crash into Buehne's car at Gravois and Rosemary.

    The crash was so violent, one woman said she heard it from her house half a mile away from the scene.

    The crash between the two vehicles happened around 9:00 a.m. The impact was so great, the engine was ripped from one of the vehicles.

    The driver of the purple PT Cruiser crashed into the red car driven by Affton Fire Chief Jerry Buehny, who died as a result.

    Before the crash, officers tried to pull over the PT Cruiser, but the driver fled. He was suspected of stealing items from a nearby Walgreens.

    Witness Steve Baker said, "The PT Cruiser was in the center lane trying to pass everybody, flying through there when he tried to cut back in he lost control."

    Joe Wolf, who also witnessed the accident, said, "It's horrible. Over some 10 dollar watches from Walgreens. Now somebody's dead."

    Wolf helped police pull the suspect from his vehicle. He saw the officer recover some watches, a Brillo pad and a crack pipe from the suspect's pockets.

    The suspect is only identified as a 44-year-old man from North County. He was taken to a local hospital in very serious condition.

    No charges have been filed.


    Fire District Mourns Loss
    By Jeff Small

    Chief Buehne is being remembered as a well respected, humble man.

    Those who knew him best say he was devoted to his family and his career.

    This district is where the chief has spent the last 40 years working his way up the ranks.

    Earlier Thursday he was being remembered by co-workers who lowered two flags to half staff in memory of their chief. Black bunting was placed outside the Affton fire district's headquarters.

    Chief Jerry Buehne had held the district's highest position for the past five years.

    Prior to that, the 64 year old had been the assistant chief for nearly twenty years.

    Buehne was married with a grown daughter and son. The chief had four grandchildren.

    Many former co-workers say Buehne loved his job and the community, but most of all his family.

    Retired Firefighter Al Kirchhofer said, "He was a prince. Firefighting was his life and he was good for the community and he thought of the men he worked with."

    His daughter lives in California. His son Tim is a captain in the Fenton fire department.

    KSDK

    http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_articl...?storyid=76430

  2. #2
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    Crash Kills Affton, Missouri Fire Chief

    Updated: 03-11-2005 04:52:41 PM
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    BILL BRYAN, ELIZABETHE HOLLAND and DAPHNE DURET
    Reprint permisson granted by St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    As two Affton engine companies and an Affton ambulance rushed to the scene of a dramatic accident on Gravois Road just before 9 a.m. Thursday, none of the emergency personnel could have foreseen the shock and sorrow they were about to experience.

    In one of the demolished cars, which was lying on its roof, was their boss - Fire Chief Jerry Buehne, an Affton firefighter for nearly 43 years and chief of the fire protection district for the past five.

    There was little Affton firefighters and paramedics could do for their popular, effervescent chief, though. A short time later, Buehne, 64, was pronounced dead at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

    St. Louis County police said Buehne's westbound car was struck nearly head-on by a speeding eastbound motorist whose vehicle had crossed the center line in the 8600 block of Gravois, at Rosemary Avenue. That motorist was Claudex Simmons, police said, a suspected shoplifter from a nearby Walgreens who might have been trying to outrun police at the time of the accident.

    Police said they were not actively chasing Simmons at the time of the crash.

    Simmons, 44, was ejected from his car and was in critical condition at a hospital Thursday, according to County Police spokesman Rick Eckhard. No charges had been filed Thursday against Simmons.

    Family members said Simmons excelled in school and was active in his church but at some point developed a drug habit. He stole to support his habit in the past, said his mother, Magdelene Ivory. He was scheduled to be arraigned on a theft charge today in St. Charles County, according to court records.

    "That cocaine just took and destroyed everything he had going for himself," Ivory said.

    Ivory said she was saddened by Buehne's death and her son should be punished for his crimes if he survives his injuries.

    The crash occurred on the first day of Buehne's new route to work. He spent his first night Wednesday in a new house he and his wife, Donna, had moved into on Eichelberger Street in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.

    Eckhard said the incident began about 8:45 a.m., when police were notified that a man had stolen something from the Sappington Walgreens at 11580 Gravois.

    As the call was going out, a county police officer saw the suspect's car, a purple PT Cruiser, speeding east on Gravois. The police car went after the vehicle, but stayed about three-quarters of a mile behind it, Eckhard said.

    Gravois was closed to traffic in both directions for about three hours after the accident.

    Affton fire personnel draped the fire district's new station on Gravois in black bunting and lowered its flags to half-staff Thursday. Visitors came to the station in tears to share condolences with firefighters. The district was deluged with phone calls from other area districts and departments offering help.

    "It just hit us like a freight train," Affton Capt. William Albright said. "We're all devastated right now."

    Making the loss especially painful was that Affton fire district personnel were the first to respond to the scene.

    "It's terrible. That's the worst-case scenario . . . when it's one of your own," said Fenton Fire Protection District Chief Larry Boyle, who heard the call go out on the radio but didn't realize Buehne was a victim until a short time later. "My heart really goes out to those folks."

    News of what happened spread quickly through area fire agencies. Within a couple of hours of the wreck, area fire chiefs and others had banded together to make funeral and other arrangements so Buehne's family and Affton personnel wouldn't have to.

    Area fire chiefs and others spoke fondly of Buehne, who many described as an easy-going, fun-loving, yet steady man with a good sense of humor and a great love of the fire service and his family.

    "He was a firefighter's firefighter - a natural," Albright said. "He was a prince."

    Creve Coeur Fire Protection District Chief Bill Brandes said he and Buehne had been friends for two decades.

    "He was a really fun-loving guy who would give his life for anybody else," Brandes said. "He proved that."

    Buehne started in the fire service as a private, worked his way up to captain and was Affton's assistant chief for about 20 years before taking over as chief, Albright said.

    His son, Tim Buehne, followed his father's career path. Tim Buehne is a captain with the Fenton fire district. Jerry and Donna Buehne also have a daughter, Cindy Siegel, of San Diego, and four grandchildren.

    Boyle, the Fenton chief, referred to Buehne as "the dean" of area chiefs who've been in their positions a fairly short time. "He was always the calming voice," Boyle said. "He was just a remarkable influence."

    Al Kirchhofer, a retired Affton firefighter, said of the chief: "Firefighting was his life. He wouldn't even tell you the good things he did. He never bragged about himself. All he cared about was the fire department."

    Kirchhofer became an Affton firefighter in 1961, a year before Buehne joined the department. "It's just a shock to us that he won't be there any more," Kirchhofer said. "He'd always be one of the first guys in to help whenever he was needed."

    Funeral Arrangements: Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kutis Funeral Home, 10151 Gravois Rd, Affton Sunday, March 13. The Firefighters Casket vigil will occur during visitation. A Firefighters walk through is scheduled for 7 p.m.

    Full firefighters honor funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, March 14 at the Faith Lutheran Church, 6101 Telegraph Rd., Oakville. The funeral procession will pass Affton Fire Station #1 and proceed to Resurrection Cemetery, 6901 McKenzie, Affton.

    Departments wishing to provide apparatus for the firefighters procession should contact the Staging Detail Officer Rick Wilken 314-540-1900 or Larry Boyle 314-724-3046

    Honor Guard

  3. #3
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    Man Charged in Wreck That Killed Affton, Missouri Fire Chief


    Updated: 03-11-2005 04:48:56 PM
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    The Associated Press

    AFFTON, MO (AP) -- A 44-year-old suspected thief was charged with second-degree murder Friday for causing a wreck that killed a suburban fire chief.

    Claudex Simmons, 44, of Jennings, was also charged with armed criminal action, resisting by flight, stealing and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Affton Fire Protection District chief Jerry Buehne, 64, was driving to work Thursday morning when his car was struck by a car allegedly driven by Simmons. Police were trying to pull over Simmons, who was suspected in a theft from a Walgreen's store moments earlier. But authorities said they were not chasing Simmons' car.

    Buehne had been with the fire district for nearly four decades, roughly half spent as an assistant chief.

    Simmons was ejected from his car and hospitalized in serious condition. After he recovers, he will be jailed on $250,000 bond.

    Visitation for Buehne is scheduled for Sunday, and a funeral will be Monday.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=40116

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    Buehne, Jerry

    Age: 64
    Cause of Death: Vehicle Collision
    Rank: Fire Chief
    Nature of Death: Trauma
    Classification: Career
    Emergency Duty: No

    Incident Date: 03/10/2005
    Duty Type: Other On-Duty
    Incident Time: 08:45
    Activity Type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
    Death Date: 03/10/2005
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Affton Fire Protection District
    9282 Gravois Avenue
    Affton , Missouri 63123
    Chief: Pending

    Initial Summary:
    Chief Buehne was driving to a meeting at his department when his department vehicle was struck by an on-coming vehicle fleeing from police and traveling at a high rate of speed. Buehne was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    C/o Affton Fire Protection District, 9282 Gravois Avenue, Affton, MO 63123

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

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