Elwood Fire Chief killed in crash while responding to fire
ARAPAHOE Neb. (KNOP) - The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating a deadly crash that occurred on Highway 283 Thursday afternoon, during response to the large fire southeast of Elwood. Both vehicles involved were assisting in the fire response.
The crash occurred at approximately 5:10 p.m., when a Ford Expedition, driven by Phelps County Emergency Manager Justin Norris, with passenger Darren Krull, Chief of the Elwood Volunteer Fire Department, was struck head on by a truck hauling water, approximately eight miles north of Arapahoe on Highway 283.
NSP said Chief Krull, 54, of Elwood, passed away at the scene. Norris, 40, of Holdrege, was transported to the hospital in Cambridge with life-threatening injuries. He was then transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney in stable condition. He has since been transferred to a hospital in Omaha. He remains in stable condition as of Friday morning.
According to NSP, the driver of the water truck, Andries Van Aswegan, 28, of Arapahoe, was not injured in the crash. The fire and smoke in the area had created zero-visibility conditions on the roadway at the time of the crash.
“Our hearts are with all involved in this tragic crash, as well as those affected by the fire,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Please keep the firefighters, farmers, emergency managers, law enforcement officers, volunteers, and all others involved in this fire response in your thoughts today.”
Chief Krull is the nephew of State Senator Tom Briese who serves District 41 in Central Nebraska. State Senators took a moment of silence on the floor of the legislature Friday in remembrance.
The crash remains under investigation.
Region 17 Emergency Manager Roger Powell said 26 departments worked together to fight the fire in high wind conditions. They were able to contain the fire early Friday morning but several small fires remain. Highways are back open and evacuation orders have been lifted. Rural homes and outbuildings were destroyed in the fire.
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