Ill. fire chief remembered as 'a very good man'
Ken Lehr, 59, was setting up a landing zone when he was backed over by fire truck he was preparing to get on
MEDORA, Ill. — Longtime firefighter Kenneth Lehr, 59, was on one of many calls to help when he died Thursday as a result of an accident.
“He was called to assist at the scene where a tree had fallen and broke a man’s leg, and he was preparing to get on the firetruck to block the road,” said Earl Dixon, president of the Medora Fire Protection District. He was on Illinois Route 111 near Chesterfield. The fire district is based in Medora but includes several townships in adjacent areas.
A helicopter was on the way to pick the victim of the tree accident. The truck backed over Lehr, who was crushed and pronounced dead at the scene.
Dixon said Lehr, the district chief, was very involved in the community, in addition to his duties with the fire district.
He was an emergency medical technician. “He made many ambulance runs and was chairman of the ambulance district,” Dixon said. He said He and Lehr had known each other for decades and both worked at Olin Corp. on Shamrock Street in East Alton. Lehr worked in metal manufacturing.
Lehr had just retired and was planning to devote more time to his firefighter duties, Dixon said.”He was a very good man,”
Former firefighter Keith Milner, operator of Milner’s grocery in Medora, said he worked with Lehr when he, Milner, was a volunteer fireman. “He was a real nice guy,” Milner said. He said firefighters were meeting Thursday evening to plan out the funeral arrangements and to meet with counselors for their emotional needs.
Dixon said he and his colleagues are in contact with statewide fire district officials to plan the arrangements.
A spokesman for Targhetta Funeral Home said visitation is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 13, at Brighton West Elementary School. A service will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Southwestern High School. Father William Kessler will preside.
A large turnout of firefighters from across the state is expected, the spokesman said.
“The governor has called the family, and we have received several calls from firefighters’ associations,” he said.
At approximately 2:08 p.m. Thursday, the Medora Fire Department was called to a medical emergency on Illinois Route 111 about a half mile south of Illinois Route 108.
The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. as Medora fire engine driver Patrick Cullum, 46, of Medora, was preparing to close the road.
Police are reconstructing the crash as part of the investigation. Lehr had been the department’s chief for about eight years.
The volunteer department has 23 firefighters.
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