On August 28, 1993, Deputy Eugene Gutsch responded to a call on North Street in Cornell. Dispatch reported that a man was threatening to kill his two children, ages two and four. When Deputy Gutsch arrived, he could see the suspect on his front steps holding a knife to the throat of his two-year-old son.
The suspect screamed at Deputy Gutsch and the other officers that he would kill the child unless he was able to speak with his wife and the police leave the area. Attempts at negotiations only agitated the suspect. Finally, officers convinced the suspect to release his two-year-old son, but then he placed his knife to the throat of his four-year-old daughter. When the suspect began poking the girl’s neck with the blade, officers drew their weapons and demanded that he release the girl. The suspect then retreated into a bedroom with the girl and closed the door. The wife of the suspect was now brought in to assist with negotiations. As the two talked through the door, officers could hear the little girl screaming and crying. The suspect then moved back into the hallway to talk more directly with his estranged wife.
Deputy Gutsch, seeing the suspect was being distracted by his glasses sliding down his face while his little girl was struggling in his arms and crying to use the bathroom, took the opportunity to strike the suspect’s hands hard enough to disarm him. The ensuing struggle resulted in the arrest of the suspect and the children were returned safely to their mother. There is little doubt that the actions of Deputy Gutsch and his fellow officers saved the lives of the two children.
January 23, 1995, the Eau Claire Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire on 1st Avenue. Lieutenant Kim Nessel, Firefighter David Okas, and Firefighter Wayne Klett of Engine 2 arrived first to the scene. Fire and smoke were clearly visible in the four-unit, two-story apartment building.
A woman met Lt. Nessel at the sidewalk and told him that her 1-year-old baby was trapped in the first floor bedroom and could only be gotten by the back door. Trying to get in the back of the building, Lt. Nessel was met with heavy fire and smoke making in impossible to advance. The crew then positioned in front of the building and made forcible entry through the front door. Lt. Nessel made a search of a first floor bedroom and found the baby in his crib.
With the ceiling falling down upon them, and the temperature rising, Lt. Nessel found the doors had closed, trapping him and the baby in the bedroom. Firefighters Okas and Klett quickly assisted in the rescue by forcing the doors back open and directing Lt. Nessel and the baby out of the room. At the moment the crew and baby exited the bedroom, much of the first floor flashed over and engulfed them. The crew spilled out onto the front porch, their turnout clothing was smoking and their face shields were blackened from the heat. Lt. Nessel protected Baby Nicholas until handing him over to Engineer Bill Klee, who performed CPR on him until the Rescue Company could take over and transport him to the hospital.
After reassembline, the Engine 2 crew reentered the building to continue the search for other possible victims. None were in the building.
Sadly, little Nicholas Adank later passed away, but he had been given the greatest chance of living because of the heroic efforts of Firefighters Nessel, Okas, and Klett.