City’s first Hispanic firefighter killed in Indiana car crashPublished 2:51pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012
BUTLER, IND. – The first Hispanic firefighter for the city of Russellville was tragically killed in an automobile accident in Butler, Ind., where he and his family were residing.
Clemente Fuentes, 40, was killed as a result of injuries he sustained in a two-vehicle, head-on crash that occurred just after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, officials said.
As reported by The Butler Bulletin, Fuentes was driving a 1997 Ford Aerostar van when a 2000 Ford Explorer driven by 25-year-old Ryan M. Farrell, of Auburn, Ind., crossed over the center line while going around a curve and struck Fuentes’ van head-on.
Officials at the scene reported that the damage to the vehicle was so severe that it took 30 minutes to extricate Fuentes from the van.
Officials said Fuentes died from internal injuries and multiple leg injuries.
His wife, Veronica, 37, who was also in the vehicle, sustained only minor cuts.
Local police said alcohol is possibly a factor in the accident and charges against Farrell, who sustained minor injuries, are pending following an investigation.
Fuentes was first hired as a firefighter for the city of Russellville in April of 2004, making him the first Hispanic firefighter ever hired by the city.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said he learned of the news from a local police officer who still keeps in touch with Fuentes’ brother and was saddened by the news.
“Clemente was such a great guy to be around,” Mansell said. “He was one of those people that was always cutting up and making you laugh. He just had a great personality and all the guys enjoyed his company.”
Mansell said he remembered Fuentes as being a family man and someone who liked taking care of others.
“He had a hard road becoming a firefighter because all the training he went through was completely new to him,” Mansell said, “but he never gave up. He was determined to become a firefighter and that’s exactly what he did. He really seemed to enjoy his job.”
Mansell said Fuentes left the fire department in May 2006 when his family moved, but they still considered him part of the firefighter family at Russellville.
“It’s always sad to lose a member of our firefighting family, no matter where they lived or how long they’ve been gone,” Mansell said.
“We’ll certainly miss him, and our prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”