Fire Chief Revives Cat at Scene of Deadly Crash and Fire

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Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning, left, and Dawn Whitaker's work to save the life of Whitaker's cat after a truck apparently lost control and exploded into flames about 4 p.m.
Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning, left, and Dawn Whitaker’s work to save the life of Whitaker’s cat after a truck apparently lost control and exploded into flames about 4 p.m on Wednesday.
Photo, Steve Bohnstedt/Quincy Herald-Whig


A deadly truck crash in Quincy, IL on Wednesday led to a building fire and the rescue of a woman’s cat, who was revived at the scene by the fire chief with the help of a pet oxygen mask.

Local residents called in reports of an erratic driver in a speeding pickup truck at around 4 pm Wednesday afternoon as 30 year old Matthew R. Fulmer barreled down three city blocks before the fiery crash that took his life and destroyed much of a building where his truck landed.

Bystander Dewayne Landrith described the progression of events for the Herald-Whig, saying the truck went up on the sidewalk alongside the playground at Blessed Sacrament school, knocked down a small tree, hit the fence surrounding the school’s playground and parking lot, then smashed into a small brick wall with the school’s name on it.

The impact when the truck hit the brick wall set off an explosion and fire.

“The whole front end [of the pickup truck] exploded, and the motor blew up when he hit that little wall,” Landrith said. “He hit a parked car (on the opposite side of the street of the building). Somehow, he ended up back on the tires and went into the building. It was just 30 feet of flames at that point.”

A thrift shop in the building had just closed for the day and the destroyed upstairs apartment’s resident, Dawn Whitaker, was not inside at the time. The owner of another store, Heavenly Bodies, fled the store as bricks began to fly in the air.  A thrift shop employee and a bystander both sustained minor injuries.

Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning  gave oxygen to Dawn Whitaker’s cat at the scene. Whitaker was outside up the street and headed toward home when she saw the out-of-control driver heading in the direction of her home. She gave her recollection of the crash in the video below.

Fire and emergency crews worked  for several hours, and officials say the building will likely be demolished.
Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois

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