Authorities say a fatal accident at a railroad crossing West of Hastings near Marian Road killed a volunteer firefighter.
Police say 52-year-old Neal Sahling was traveling west when an eastbound truck was pushed into his lane. Police say the eastbound truck was stopped at the railroad tracks and was rear ended by a semi truck, forcing it into oncoming traffic.
Sahling was killed in the accident.
It was an unexpected, untimely loss for the Wood River Volunteer Firefighters, and a day later they were still grappling with news of the death of a colleague whose first concern was safety.
"In addition to the loss of two firefighters we had in 2004, this opens some old wounds," said Wood River Fire Chief Todd King.
"Neal was currently our safety officer for the department, so that's what makes this even more tragic is, Neal was very safety conscious, and for something like this to happen to our safety officer just makes it even more tragic," said King.
Fellow firefighters said it's certain that Neal Sahling had come to the rescue of motorists injured in similar accidents.
"We've been on numerous traffic accidents both involving deaths and just minor injuries. Neal had been on...we cover about eight miles of the Interstate, so we get to see our share," said Wood River firefighter Roger Dvorak.
"Neal was a very active and caring member, and that makes it even more...His shoes will never be filled," said King.