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Firefighter-In-Training Killed in Motorcycle Crash

Firefighter-In-Training Killed in Motorcycle Crash

Woodstock firefighter Trent Steckel

Chicago Tribune via Yellowbrix

July 03, 2010

CRYSTAL LAKE – He was a firefighter-in-training, but the Woodstock Fire Department still relied on Trent Steckel as a member of the crew.

“We knew he would have had a very successful career in the fire service,” Chief Ralph Webster said.

Steckel, 24, of Crystal Lake, was killed early Friday in a motorcycle crash. He was scheduled to work a shift Friday at Station No. 2 on Dean Street.

About 1:10 a.m. Friday, Steckel had been northbound on Live Oak Road south of Spy Glass Ridge Road when he exited the roadway to the west for unknown reasons. He went into a ditch, lost control of the Honda VTX1300C, and collided with a culvert.

Police said he was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Sgt. Carolyn Hubbard of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department said Steckel was riding alone. There were no witnesses to the crash; a passerby came across it, she said.

Steckel was an avid outdoorsman who especially enjoyed hiking in Colorado.

“He hiked several 14,000-foot peaks,” said his stepfather, Tom Weiss. “He loved the outdoors. Anything physical, he really enjoyed.”

Steckel was a 2004 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School and was one of the area’s best football players in 2002 and 2003.

Steckel rushed for 1,185 yards and eight touchdowns in 2003, his senior season of football at South. He ran for 1,101 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. He went on to play at Eastern Illinois University, where he played tight end and was used on special teams.

Steckel had wanted to be a firefighter for years, Weiss said.

“He was really dedicated to becoming a firefighter and was well on his way to achieving that goal,” he said.

Steckel had just completed a cadet program within the past week and was moving on to the apprentice level, Deputy Chief Terry Menzel said. He had been with the department since August 2009.

He still was in training and was being evaluated for a paramedic program that starts in the fall, Menzel said.

In a year, Steckel would have been a firefighter/paramedic, Webster said.

“He showed such maturity and leadership that kind of accelerated his career path with our department,” Webster said.

The fact that he was part of the department despite living outside its jurisdiction spoke highly of Steckel, Menzel said.

“He was one of them who passed with flying colors, just an individual who stood out,” Menzel said.

The other members of the department aren’t taking the loss very well, Webster said.

“We lost one of our own at too young of an age,” he said. “His heart was in it, and he had a great attitude about life. We’re going to miss him.”