The Clinton County sheriff's office is investigating the death of a firefighter who was struck and killed Sunday night by a fire truck as the crew arrived at the scene of a house fire. Timothy P. Jansen, 45. Jansen was a volunteer firefighter for the Santa Fe Volunteer Fire Protection District in Bartelso.
At about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jansen was on the first pumper truck to arrive at a burning residence, called a clubhouse, in the 9600 block of River Road, said Jeff Kampwerth, chief of the neighboring Germantown Fire Protection District.
Jansen had just gotten off the truck, to take off the hoses, when he was hit. Jansen was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese, where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room.
His injuries were to the chest, abdomen and pelvic area, said Phillip Moss, the Clinton County coroner.
"He had gotten off the truck and he slipped or possibly tripped over the hose, and the driver was unaware of him and the truck was backing up," Moss said.
One of his co-workers at the scene called for an ambulance. "His fellow firefighters were there by his side until the ambulance arrived," Moss said.
Bartelso is a village of nearly 600 residents in Clinton County, about 50 miles east of St. Louis. Kampwerth, from neighboring Germantown, was acting as spokesman Monday morning for the Bartelso firefighters mourning their friend's death.
"He was just one of the nice guys, upbeat, always willing to do anything for you," Kampwerth said of Jansen.
About 30 firefighters from two districts went to the home on River Road to fight the fire. When the call first came out, Jansen went to the firehouse and got his gear, then jumped on the fire truck for a ride to the scene.
The building on fire was a clubhouse, similar to a cottage used primarily as a weekend getaway, Moss said. No one was inside at the time, Kampwerth said. The building was destroyed by flames, and the Illinois state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire. No other injuries were reported.
After Jansen's death, a critical-incident stress debriefing team from a local hospital came to the local firehouse and talked with the firefighters and their wives, Kampwerth said.
Jansen was married and had two daughters, in eighth and first grades. He was a 15-year veteran of the district. He owned and operated MacJenna's, a restaurant across the street from the firehouse. He named the restaurant after his daughters, said Jansen's youngest brother, Joe Jansen.
Joe Jansen said his brother was one of six siblings, born and raised in Bartelso. Tim Jansen worked long hours at the restaurant and loved being part of the fire district. He joined the district after many of his friends did, Joe Jansen said.
Tim Jansen was generous, his brother said. At his restaurant, he hired a young man in town who was disabled and, because the young man didn't have a drivers license, Tim Jansen would take him to Walmart every other weekend or so to buy his essentials.
Mike Jansen, a first cousin of Tim's, said the Jansens are well-known and respected throughout the community.
"It's just broken my heart," said Mike Jansen. "Everybody loved Tim."
Mike Jansen said he's not surprised that Tim Jansen was one of the first to arrive at the fire to help someone. "He was just a pillar of the community, being a firefighter and owning a small business in town," Mike Jansen said. "You couldn't find someone with a better work ethic."
Mike Jansen said he knows the area on River Road where the accident happened. "It's a winding, narrow, hilly road and extremely hard to get a fire truck in there," he said.
The man driving the truck was a very good friend of Tim Jansen's and is grief-stricken by what happened, Mike Jansen added.
The man is "just devastated," Mike Jansen said. "I would imagine they're really rallying around him to try to help him."
The coroner said funeral arrangements will be handled by Moss Funeral Home in Germantown, Ill.
Written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix