As you will read below, the other FF who was injured over the weekend while attempting a rescue, when part of the structure collapsed, has succumbed to his injuries. Capt. Kenny Woitalewicz, 38, died around 1:30 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) and is survived by his wife, Melissa, and two young sons.
The reports are that the weight of 2 to 3 inches of ice on the roof of the dwelling along with the fire conditions apparently caused the roof to collapse on the firefighters.
As always, our deepest respect and prayers go out to the family of Captain Woitalewicz as well as the family of Captain Heminger as well as the members of the Wood River F.D. in Nebraska.
Additional details are below.
Take Care-BE CAREFUL.
The Secret List 2-18-04
Second firefighter loses battle
Kenny Woitalewicz dies from injuries suffered in blaze; officials rule fire an accident
By Sarah Schulz and Gretchen Fowler
Publication Date: 02/18/04
WOOD RIVER — The second Wood River volunteer firefighter injured in Saturday’s blaze has died from his injuries, and the fire has been ruled an accident by the state fire marshal.
Capt. Kenny Woitalewicz, 38, died around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Francis Medical Center. He is survived by his wife, Melissa, and two young sons.
Wood River Fire Chief Roger Derr formally announced the news of Woitalewicz’s passing during a 4:30 p.m. press conference at the Wood River Fire Hall. The fire hall shares space with the Wood River city offices on Main Street, both of which bore solemn signs that the community was in a collective state of grief.
A black wreath and draped black fabric have adorned the exterior of the brick building since Monday. The anything-but-festive decorations are a reminder, though one is not needed, of Saturday’s events.
Woitalewicz and fellow volunteer Capt. Robert “Bobby” Heminger, 39, were injured Saturday morning when they responded to a house fire at 211 W. 12th St. in Wood River.
Heminger died Sunday at St. Francis, and one of the home’s residents, Anna M. “Annie” Carrig, 73, was declared dead at the scene Saturday morning.
“This is going to be tough to take,” Derr said as he spoke to members of the media only hours after Woitalewicz’s passing.
At that time, Derr said he still didn’t know what had caused the fire.
Ray Nance, a public information officer with the state fire marshal’s office, told The Independent during an interview by telephone that the fire was ruled an accident, but the cause will not be released by the state fire marshal’s office. An exact reason for the decision was not given.
Nance issued a press release about the fire with the following information:
Early Saturday morning, Carrig’s husband, Raymond Carrig, was awakened by the sound of a smoke alarm. He went to check on the cause of the alarm and found his wife standing in the living room near a small fire on the couch.
He attempted to extinguish the blaze, but after a couple of attempts, he determined that the couch needed to be removed from the home. However, the couch became wedged in the doorway, and he was unable to get back inside, where his wife was standing.
At 6:33 a.m., the Grand Island 911 Center received a call about a structure fire at the Carrigs’ home, which is owned by Wilbur McComber. The call came from a person who had driven by the residence. The reporting party saw Mr. Carrig standing in his yard wearing only his pajamas.
Wood River and Cairo fire departments arrived at the scene at 6:40 a.m. At 6:51 a.m., the state fire marshal’s office received a call to respond to the scene due to a suspected fatality.
At 7:14 a.m., it was reported that Heminger and Woitalewicz were trapped inside the home. They had entered the home to conduct a search but backed out to renew their air supply. They re-entered the home to continue the search and were in the area of the living room, which had been added on between the home and the garage, Nance said.
According to Nance’s press release, the fire and the weight of 2 to 3 inches of ice on the roof caused the roof to collapse on the firefighters. The men were taken to St. Francis by 7:40 a.m.
Funerals for Heminger and Woitalewicz will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Wood River High School.
How to help
Donations for the families of Bobby Heminger and Kenny Woitalewicz can be sent in care of the Wood River Firefighters’ Family Relief Fund at the Heritage Bank, 110 E. Ninth St., Wood River, NE 68883.
A memorial service for Anna M. “Annie” Carrig will be at 11 a.m. today at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Island.
Funerals for Bobby Heminger and Kenny Woitalewicz will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Wood River High School with overflow seating at Babel’s Barn. There will closed-circuit video of the service at Babel’s Barn.