Two deaths in one day taxes North Shore Fire Department

Meanwhile, driver barely escapes run-in with train

Nov. 1, 2013

Two people died in the North Shore on Wednesday, a contractor who was trapped in a Fox Point garage collapse in the morning and an elderly Shorewood woman who perished in a duplex fire the same evening.

Meanwhile, in Fox Point, a driver involved in a rollover crash narrowly escaped a passing train.

It was a tough day for a number of North Shore Fire Department's paramedics and firefighters, who pulled one body from the collapsed garage in the morning and another from the duplex fire in the evening.

"It was an emotionally trying day for that group of guys," NSFD Lt. Dan Tyk said. "It's not common to have two traumatic deaths like that in the North Shore on the same day."

Garage collapse

Fox Point police and the North Shore Fire Department responded to a call about the trapped contractor at 9:07 a.m. Wednesday. Upon arrival, firefighters pulled the contractor, later identified as Sean Matthew Held, 38, of Slinger, from the collapsed garage and pronounced him dead on scene.

According to Fox Point Police Chief Thomas Czaja, Held and another contractor from Slinger-based MDM Builders were working on a garage rehabilitation job when the structure collapsed, trapping Held inside.

The other contractor, not identified by police, was outside the garage at the time of the collapse and was unhurt in the accident, Czaja said. The owner of the home was not there when the garage collapsed.

An estimate of property damage as a result of the collapse is unavailable at this time. Members of the police and fire departments are investigating the cause of the collapse.

Duplex fire

The fire department responded to a call at 9:04 p.m. Wednesday of a house fire at a duplex, 4481-83 North Murray Ave.

Crews found fire and heavy smoke pouring from the upstairs level of the duplex. Tenants from the upstairs unit had evacuated before the fire department arrived, but told firefighters that an elderly resident lived in the lower level.

Using fire hoses, the firefighters pushed into the burning duplex in search of the elderly resident, whom they found shortly after entering. She was taken from the building and tended to by paramedics, who pronounced her dead on the scene.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office later identified her as Jeanne A. Taggett.

No one else was injured in the fire.

Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the rest of the fire. Fire damage was extensive throughout the first level of the duplex and smoke damage was heavy throughout both levels.

While a cause of the fire will remain unknown, the origin was found to be the threshold connecting Taggett's kitchen to a sun room.

"We can't say with certainty what caused the fire because the fire damage was so heavy," Tyk said.

The medical examiner's office ruled Taggett's death accidental, the result of smoke inhalation.

"There's nothing to lead them to believe that it was suspicious or malicious," Tyk said.

Damage to the duplex is estimated at $90,000.

Driver dodges train

As NSFD was battling the blaze in Shorewood, other crews from the department responded to a rollover accident in Fox Point at the intersection of Lake Drive and Green Tree Road.

According to the police accident report:

The driver was headed northbound on Lake Drive when he missed the turn for Green Tree Road.

He veered left in an attempt to make the turn, hitting a telephone pole support line before heading through some trees and over the nearby railroad tracks. He nearly flipped his car as he turned around and crossed back over the tracks.

He then hit a tree and flipped his car, coming to rest several feet from the railroad tracks. A train was passing by on the tracks when NSFD arrived on scene.

Firefighters cut open the roof of the car to pull the man from the wreckage. They told responding police officers that they could smell alcohol on the man's breath and believed him to be impaired. Officers observed his eyes to be bloodshot and glassy, and the smell of alcohol about the man.

He admitted to drinking half a glass of wine and a scotch.

The driver was taken to Froedtert Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, where he was issued a citation for operating while intoxicated and blood was drawn for an alcohol content test.

If the test shows that the man's blood alcohol content was above 0.08, he will be issued a second citation for driving with an alcohol content above the legal limit, Czaja said.

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