By Paul Garrod
PAW PAW – Funeral services will be held Saturday at Paw Paw High School’s Performing Arts Center for Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Department member Lieutenant Ethan M. Quillen, who was tragically killed in the line of duty Feb. 22, as he responded to a fire call in Almena Township.
The fire department was dispatched for a report of a tree branch on powerlines that was on fire. The incident occurred at approximately 5:42 p.m. on 30th Street, just south of 42nd Avenue.
Upon arrival, firefighters found a powerline arcing on some tree branches. While in the process of securing the scene, a tree branch fell and subsequently brought down the powerline. It then struck Lt. Quillen, who was electrocuted.
Firefighters and emergency medical staff on scene rendered immediate medical aid to Lt. Quillen. Van Buren Emergency Medical Services Ambulance, Paw Paw Quick Response Team, and Mattawan Fire & Rescue responded to the scene. Lt. Quillen was transported from the scene by VBEMS to Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Lt. Quillen leaves behind a wife and young daughter.
Lt. Quillen was a veteran of the United States Navy
Also assisting at the scene were the Paw Paw Police Department, Michigan State Police, Van Buren County Central Dispatch and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.
Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott issued a statement on behalf of the fire department later that evening. It read, “On behalf of the Paw Paw Fire Department, it is with a heavy heart that they lost one of their own tonight on a tragic incident, no fault of the fire fighter. The department is asking at this time that you give them time to deal with this tragedy, and at a later date and time more information will be available. They would also ask that you respect the family, friends, and fellow firefighters during this time while they are mourning the loss. Please keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers at this time. Thank you for respecting their wishes.”
State Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township), issued the following statement after learning of Lt. Quillen’s death. It read: “My heart and prayers are with the family of our fallen firefighter, as well as those who served with and knew him. Our communities are blessed by our brave first responders who put the needs of others before their own. This tragedy is a hard reminder that these men and women put their lives on the line with each and every call they respond to. May God be with the family during this difficult time.”
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for the Quillen family