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Indiana fire chief investigated for actions at fatal ambulance crash. Cops say he had a 'meltdown'.

This story is a bit different and I’m not sure what to make of it. It involves an investigation that is underway in Clark County, Indiana. It focuses on Chief Greg Dietz of the Sellersburg Fire Department and his behavior at the scene of a fatal crash involving a department ambulance last Wednesday. Here are excerpts from an article by WHAS-TV:

The investigation involves his alleged actions at the scene of an accident in which one of his own employees – a Clark County Emergency Medical Technician – was killed.

While we don’t know much about the nature of the possible charges, we’ve been told it all centers on a terrible crash that happened Wednesday afternoon.

According to sources, Chief Dietz arrived on the scene and became angry over whether his agency or the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was in charge, especially concerning where to land the medical helicopter.

Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden confirmed to WHAS the incident is under investigation.

Sellersburg Police Chief Russ Whelan says Dietz worked for 15 years as a volunteer auxiliary police officer.

He asked Dietz to step aside today.

From NewsandTribune.com:

David J. Gundle, a 50-year-old emergency medical technician from Memphis, was killed Wednesday when an ambulance driven by Erica R. Stoffregen, 26, of Henryville, left the roadway and struck a tree head on. They were responding to a nonemergency call of a welfare check. Clark County EMS is operated by the Sellersburg Volunteer Fire Department.

Gundle was first transported by ground ambulance to Henryville High School and then flown by Stat Flight to Scott County Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Officials said Dietz was upset because of where the helicopter had to land.

“I was told by numerous people that there was profanity used [by Dietz] on the fire radios,” Whelan said. “I understand that emotions were high at the time, but I believe we’re held to a higher standard.”

“He had a meltdown at the scene the other day,” Sheriff Danny Rodden said. “He just made some decisions and did some things he shouldn’t have.”

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  • observer

    we have seen this a million times. the fire department owns the scene of every accident and building fire, minus the point where police fear occupants may be armed.

    • Anonymous

      the thing is…this wasnt even his fire jurisdiction just one of his vehicles and employees invovled, having worked for him for a year and a half, he is a person who goes ona power trip, not saying he was 100% in th wrong here bc i know emotions were extremely high but as a chief of the dept and a police officer he is held accountable and to a higher standard!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention IN chief's actions at fatal ambulance crash scene probed. | STATter911.com -- Topsy.com()

  • Jason Low

    A fire chief, upset at a scene where one of his own lost their life? Say it isn’t so.

    Ignoring the unprofessional behavior on the radio (which I guarantee 90% of us have done from time to time regardless of our frame of mind), if my chief was not emotionally stirred when one of his own ‘family’ was harmed, that’s when I would worry.

  • 30+ on the job

    “the fire department owns the scene of every accident and building fire”

    Not in Maryland. The State Highway Administration is legally in charge of any incident on a state road. It is the law. This came about after the State of Montgomnery shut down I-270 for 28 hours for a hazmat call that was not a hazmat.

    The Governor signed it into law soon after.

  • Kim Covington

    Ok, so now us as fire,EMS, and police can not have emotions? Really? Are you serious? He just lost one of his own. I agree with Jason, if he wasn’t emotional that’s when I would worry!!! We in the emergency community are humans, with human emotions!!! I pray not only for the lost person’s family but the other family in the emergency department

  • MLJ

    leave him alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!some scenes can do that to you!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tom W.

    I agree with Jason Lowe. This is probably the first line he has ever experienced something so horrible. Just looking at the ambulance, and the damage to it, would be a horific expereince for ANYONE in this business, knowing that a good outcome on his injuries would be slim. I can understand his actions on scene. I would like to see anyone questioning his actions to step into his shoes and see it thru his eyes…

    • dave statter

      I have thought from first reading this story that there is something more going on here. Just my gut as a former reporter. What the other agenda is, if there is one, I don’t know.

      Statter

  • Paul

    Having served as a paramedic for more than 25 years I have seen this before. A tragedy involving one of our own gets blown way out of proportion. This being said, the fire chief has the responsibility to be the most professional person on the scene. As any of us EMS providers know, once we lose our cool, then the scene goes to hell fast. I do not know what was said on the radio, however there is no reason ever to lose your cool on the scene. If you are going to have a melt down you wait til after the victims are on their way to the hospital, then you have a meltdown.

    Doing that on the scene does nothing but strain relations with all other allied services. How does the chief having a meltdown help the poor paramedic who died, or his partner? It does not. If you can not control your emotions, step off the scene and turn it over to someone who can, that way the victims get the help they need and peace at the scene can be maintained. There is always time to review an incident to learn how to do things better.

    I hope the family and the department can find peace in these trying times.

  • http://www.rmesfire.org Jason Low

    I just watched the video and it’s raised more than a couple concerns for me. (1) Who’s the “concerned resident” in the ballcap in the video, who apparently has a detailed knowledge of what was said on the radio? He reads like a nosy scanner user (and I am an avid scanner user myself, so I’m not tarring the hobby with a wide brush, for what it’s worth). The fact he says the chief should be “gone completely” raises flags for me too. (2) The reporter’s smug “but his truck is here” voiceover – while in the same breath saying that the visitation for the deceased medic was going on at that same time – shows an immense lack of class and disrespect for the grieving families and crews. (3) Since when does a police chief have the authority to instruct/request/demand that a fire chief “step aside” (which I take to mean that he surrender his title as chief)?

    The whole “command of the scene” issue notwithstanding, Dave Statter is right – this whole story doesn’t add up and there has to be some more elements/issues buried, perhaps in local politics, that haven’t seen the light of day.

    That having been said, Sellersburg/Clark County, your brothers and sisters support you in your time of mourning.

    • http://www.rmesfire.org Jason Low

      I re-watched the video and realize now that the police chief was probably asking the fire chief to “step aside” as a reserve police officer, not as fire chief – easy to confuse the statement.

      • dave statter

        That is correct Jason. I understand that. Sorry if the copy didn’t make it clear.

        Statter

    • dave statter

      Don’t say that too loud Jason. These days no one ever tells me I’m right (at home or on the blog).

      It will be interesting to see what the vote is tonight. I want to know more, too.

      I also wanted to know more about the guy in the hat. Search Google for Adam Koch and you will find him in a number of news stories about the town of Sellerburg. He ran for town judge at one point. I am sure there is more but I didn’t have time to look. Seems he is politically active in the area.

      Statter

    • Anonymous

      the police chief didnt ask the fire chief to step aside being fire chief, he asked hi mt ostep aside from the police dept! read the story again bro

  • B3397

    A lot of this argument is quite strange. Aside from re-stating the already stated, is this Fire Department Volunteer or Paid? In the report it seems like it may be divided Paid EMS under a Vol. Chief?. Just curious. Also it may help explain the Fire Department / Police Department feud. Being a Police Officer for 10 years and a Volunteer Firefighter for 17 years all in the same county……..some of this makes perfect sense.

  • Anonymous

    Where is the video

  • chiefbobr

    Interesting but sad story, given that a Paramedic was killed and another injured. I think it’s understandable that the Chief became upset and animated, and I can guarantee you from considerable experience that would happen in most instances where a Command Officer happened to be on the scene where one of his/her personnel was killed. I must agree with Dave on this; I think there’s something else going on here, probably between the PD and the FD.

  • 364vtp

    i think so chief your right a hundred and ten percent

  • Jordan

    Dave, 
    I agree with you here. I think there is something else to the story that we don't know about. 
     
    Also before everyone else passes judgement think about the situation. I have been in control of a scene when one of your members is involved. Three to be exact., and none of them are easy. One of the scenes was involving my own father who rolled the vehicle 8 times. Emotions are high at that time. We are human, and sometimes you can have all the training in the world but until you are in a situation like this don't judge. Luckly I have never had to deal with one of my members death. I could not imagine how hard that must be to deal with.