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William “Uncle Will” Russell Wiita

Assistant Fire Chief

Assistant Chief Wiita responded to an EMS incident with other members of his department. He stood by on the scene and drove the department’s rescue truck. As they returned to the station at the conclusion of the incident, Chief Wiita told other firefighters that he was not feeling well. The incident concluded and Assistant Chief Wiita left the fire station for home at approximately 1700hrs.

When he failed to show up at another firefighter’s home later in the day, the firefighter went to Assistant Chief Wiita’s house to check on him. The firefighter discovered Assistant Chief Wiita dead in his house. He had been dead for some time so there was no chance for resuscitation.

The medical examiner concluded that Assistant Chief Wiita’s death was from a heart attack that had started earlier in the day.

Incident Location: Excelsior Township (U.S. National Grid: 16T FQ 5420 5460)

photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
William “Uncle Will” Russell Wiita was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Coldsprings-Excelsior Fire and Rescue Station 6
6565 County Road 612 NE
U.S. National Grid: 16T FQ 5506 5948
Kalkaska, Michigan 49646

Chief: Tim McCullen

Age: 47
Rank: Assistant Fire Chief
Classification: Volunteer
Incident date: September 8, 2014 20:41
Date of death: September 8, 2014
Cause of death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of death: Heart Attack
Activity type: Not On Scene
Emergency duty: No
Duty type: Returning
Fixed property use: Residential

Last updated: September 30, 2015

Watch America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters

Honoring line-of-duty deaths in 2019