By Sam Aselstine
It’s what they do, after all: band together with purpose, helping rescue citizens who have been injured or find themselves in harm’s way.
But something is different on this occasion. Very different.
After a particularly busy and uncommonly difficult weekend emotionally for the men of Monticello’s all-volunteer fire department, they’re here on this night for themselves – and each other.
The weekend began Friday night when the department responded to a call of a rolled ATV in the 600 block of 127th Street NE, in Monticello Township. A short time after arriving on the scene, they learned the victim, for whom they could do little, was one of their own – 20-year veteran of the department and friend Steve Samuelson, who was pronounced dead at New River Medical Center after being transported from the accident scene.
Samuelson, 48, was eastbound on an ATV when he swerved to avoid a dog and rolled over in the north ditch, a Sheriff’s Office report stated.
On Monday, firefighters were at the hall to hear the words of a professional during a critical incident stress debriefing, to sort through a mountain of emotions and to celebrate the life of the man many of those in attendance went to school with, knew all their lives, joined the department with and served alongside for 20 years.
A couple of very distinct character traits came up repeatedly among this group: loyalty and dedication, to both the department and his family.
He was a huge family man