|Agency||Naperville Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Paid-On-Call (POC)|
|Age Range||46 to 50|
|Date of Birth||2/24/1924|
|Date of Death||12/7/1970|
|Cause of Death||Vehicle collision|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Responding to/returning from incident|
On December 7, 1970, the Naperville Fire Department received an alarm at 7:55AM for a house fire west of the city. Firefighters immediately responded, but a fire truck carrying five firefighters collided with a semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Illinois Routes 59 and 65. Several fatal car accidents had occurred at the intersection during the preceding years and traffic lights had been installed at the intersection only two weeks prior to the accident.
Lieutenant Richard Rechenmacher, Engineer Jerry Herring, and Firefighter Bernard Petrowski, who were riding in the cab of the fire truck, were all thrown from the vehicle by the collision and killed instantly. Firefighter Mike Hill, who was also riding in the truck’s cab, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but Firefighter James Heinke, who was riding on the tailboard of the fire truck, escaped injury. Mutual aid responders from the Moecherville Fire Department responded to the house fire, and the Downers Grove Fire Department sent firefighters and fire apparatus to Naperville to assist with fire calls.
“Truck Collision Kills 3 Naperville Firemen,” Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1970.
“Friends Recall Dedication of Three Naperville Firemen,” Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1970.