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New Hero Search Karl William Reishus
- May. 04, 1992 -
(324)

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Juneau Police Dept. Patch
Resided: AK, USA
Born: Apr. 20, 1963  
Fallen: May. 04, 1992
Race/Sex: Caucasian Male / 29 yrs. of age
Agency
Dept: Juneau Police Dept.
Juneau, AK   USA
Dept. Type: Municipal/Police
Hero's Rank: Patrolman
Sworn Date: 4/1990
FBI Class: Accident - Human
Bio: Not Available
Survived by:
Susan Smith Reishus - Wife

and his children, Brian Everett, 6, Craig William, 4, and Amy Alexis, 9 months, all of Juneau; his father, Floyd Reishus of Juneau, and mother and step-father, Barbara and Lloyd Bell, of Fairbanks; his sisters, Karen Reishus Rollin, 28, and Karol Reishus Peters, 25, of Fairbanks; his maternal grandparents, Leon and Cascile Gray of Wylie, TX; his paternal grandmother, Inez Vallevand, of Marshal, MN; his aunts, Dorothy Bjornebo, Pat Russo and Linda Foster, all of TX: his uncles, Troy Gray, of Albuquerque, NM, Don Reishus, of Dupuyer, MT, and Lloyd Reishus, of TX; and "numerous cousins, friends and fellow police officers."

Fatal Incident Summary
Offender: none
  
Location:   Juneau, AK   USA   Mon. May. 04, 1992
Summary: Juneau Officer Karl Reishus, 29, was fatally injured when he heroically tried to save two firefighters from injury during an accident in a fire rescue training incident on May 3, 1992. He died on May 4, becoming the fourth Juneau officer killed in the line of duty.

Around 2:00PM on Sunday, May 3, Officer Reishus was involved in a "routine training session" with police, fire and Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel at the William A. Hagevig Fire Training Center in the Mendenhall Valley. During what was known as a "vertical lower," Douglas volunteer fireman Pat Peterson, 34, was a mock patient strapped into a sled-like device called a litter, while Juneau firefighter, David Stott, 26, was the attendant accompanying Peterson down the 40-ft. tower to the ground. The litter was held in place by a series of ropes, a braking system and anchors.

Reishus was on the roof and was assisting placing Peterson and the litter over the four-foot safety wall in position for the descent. Scott had already been "hooked onto" the litter with a safety line. Usually the litter was balanced on the safety wall, dropped about two or three feet before the ropes picked up the slack, and then the litter and attendant were lowered to the ground. But on this occasion, something went wrong and the litter "started to go" (descend rapidly) and Reishus tried to stop it but was "pulled over the side." Another volunteer firefighter had hold of the other side of the litter and also tried to "hold on" but apparently "let go" before he was pulled over the side. Something had gone wrong with the braking system.

Reishus apparently knew something was wrong before anyone else and "tried to stop the litter from going over the wall." He tried to "grab" Peterson and Stott but "the weight was just too much." An observer said Reishus realized that the two men were going to fall and tried to save them, putting his own life in jeopardy. All three men fell in a "free fall" 40 feet to the ground.

Emergency medical personnel, who were on hand for the exercise, rushed to the three men. Peterson and Stott suffered from "numerous broken bones in their legs, but they were conscious and alert." Reishus suffered severe head injuries in the accident. When medical officers first reached him he was not breathing but "began breathing after his airway was cleared and his neck was stabilized." All three men were rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Reishus died at 7:40AM (18 hours after the accident).

Peterson, a commercial fisherman, who was a volunteer with the Douglas Fire Dept., broke bones in his legs and ankles, was hospitalized for several months and was not able to walk for six months. Stott underwent 10 hours of surgery on both thigh bones and was hospitalized for several months. His ankles were shattered and several of his vertebrae were compressed. Stott later said he believed Reishus saved his life by slowing him down enough so that he avoided fatal injuries.

Source: Book       Excerpted in part or in whole from Dr. Wilbanks book-

FORGOTTEN HEROES: POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN ALASKA, 1867-1998

By Dr. Wm. Wilbanks FL International University

To be published by Turner Publications in early 1999

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