TUNKHANNOCK — An emergency responder on his way to a wreck was killed after the truck he was in crashed.
We learned Thursday that a deadly crash in Wyoming County involved an EMT who was actually on his way to help after another crash.
One day after the deadly wreck his fellow first responders are talking about the tragedy and how much they will miss their friend and colleague.
The coroner says Tom Gruen, 46, died overnight from injuries he got in the crash along Route 92 near Tunkhannock Wednesday night.
He and another EMT were on their way to help at another crash when police say they lost control in a rain storm. Gruen’s colleagues from Tunkhannock Ambulance were then called to try to save one of their own.
A friend paying his respects along Route 92 is likely one of the first of many to stop to reflect.
“He was quite a popular guy, always willing to help other people and it was really hard to take,” said Frank Illuzzi of Tunkhannock.
The deadly crash is really hitting hard at Tunkhannock Ambulance where Tom was an EMT and so much more. And rescuers had to respond to that crash last night involving one of their own.
“When you see there’s one person that you know and he tells you go help another individual and you find out who it is, that is the worst. That’s as bad as it being your blood child. It doesn’t get worse than that,” said Tunkhannock Ambulance President Michael Henn.
The flag is at half-staff outside the ambulance headquarters. Inside, dozens of rescuers are in mourning. Two had the strength to talk with us and pay tribute to their friend.
“For the last, how many years now, Tom has been my partner on the ambulance, my crew chief on the ambulance and working together on every call we go out on. I just said to him the other day, ‘Hey man, we work really well together,’” Mike Markowitz said.
Friends say Gruen was so dedicated, but also quite a character, an uplifting presence in an emotional job.
“He was kind of crazy. He’d come in and you’d say, ‘there’s loud Tom!’ But then it was like, he found the humor in a lot of things,” added Henn.
“The people in the organization have spent the whole day today saying ‘we did this with Tom, we did that with tom.’ It’s really helped, really helped a lot,” Markowitz said.
So does knowing Gruen died doing what he always did, trying to help others.
“It will be very hard to replace him because he’s such a great man and we feel really bad about it,” Illuzzi added.
The other EMT who was driving is emotionally shaken up, but wasn’t badly hurt.
Tunkhannock Ambulance plans a big procession when it comes time to say a final farewell to Tom Gruen next week.