Grand County EMS mourns loss of captain
Longer than a year after a Grand County EMS vehicle rolled two-and-a-half times on Red Dirt Hill, the driver of the vehicle, former EMS Captain Brian Schimpf, died following a surgery related to injuries sustained from the accident.
After Schimpf underwent surgery on Wednesday, Nov. 20, he was placed on life support due to complications with the surgery, according to Grand County EMS Chief Ray Jennings. Schimpf never regained consciousness and died on Saturday, Nov. 23. He was 33 years old.
The tragic death of Schimpf marks the first death to occur in the line of duty for the agency since Grand County EMS began operating in 1970.
“He was a wonderful young man, one of those bright and shining stars that everyone gravitated to,” Jennings said. “It is very sad to see someone so young and alive not be here anymore.”
Schimpf, originally from Minnesota, had been working for Grand County EMS for less than a year when he was returning from a structure fire at Beaver Village around 2 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012. He was travelling westbound on Highway 40 on Red Dirt Hill when the accident occurred.
“Red Dirt Hill gets pretty slick when it is wet,” Jennings said. Locals know that this section of road is dangerous and accident prone, he said. “He was new to the area and didn’t have the experience.”
After the accident, Schimpf was able to locate a radio and call for help.
Schimpf suffered numerous injuries from the accident including a mild head injury, broken ribs, broken tibia and fibula, broken collarbone, and spinal injuries.
Schimpf went into surgery on Wednesday in relation to the spinal injuries.
Grand County EMS held fundraisers for Schimpf, which saw a large amount of involvement from the public, according to Jennings.
One of Schimpf’s attributes that will be sorely missed by Grand County EMS will be Schimpf’s dedication to the craft and to public safety and helping others, Jennings said.
“He always helped and wanted to teach the younger ones about the craft and will be sorely missed because he touched so many lives,” Jennings said.
The family of Schimpf will hold a memorial for both Schimpf and his grandfather, who passed away on Veteran’s Day this year, in Minnesota. Grand County EMS will hold a memorial for Schimpf, date and time yet to be set.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334
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Members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission as well as the public are invited to attend CPW’s second online educational session related to wolf reintroduction efforts 6-8 p.m. Thursday.