Indiana Captain Dies from Crash Injuries

Robert Ulrich, 57, One of Two Hurt in Tanker Rollover
Posted: Friday, November 5, 1999 - 8 AM
InterAct: Post Condolences Online JOHN WHITE The LaPorte Herald-Argus

NOV. 4 - The Scipio, Indiana Township Volunteer Fire Department was dealt a shocking blow Thursday morning when Capt. Robert Ulrich, one of two firefighters injured in a truck-rollover accident last week, died at LaPorte Hospital.

LaPorte County Chief Deputy Coroner John Sullivan said Ulrich died at 5:25 a.m. today, even though LaPorte Hospital reported the firefighter was in fair condition Wednesday. Ulrich, 57, was one of two Scipio firefighters injured in the accident last Thursday at West Ind. 2 and Forrester Road. Ulrich and Brian Burnett, 23, were traveling to a grass fire in Westville at about 2 p.m. when driver Burnett lost control of the Scipio water tanker truck on a sharp curve just east of Pinhook.

The truck left the road and rolled over several times. Ulrich was trapped inside the truck for nearly an hour before being extricated by LaPorte City and Center and Scipio volunteer firefighters. Ulrich initially was listed in serious condition, then became critical, before being upgraded to stable and then fair earlier this week.

This morning, Scipio Township Fire Chief Pete Sass said the news of Ulrich's death took him and the other firefighters completely by surprise. "We're numb; this was real unexpected," said Sass. Courtesy Herald-Argus/By Bob Wellinski Rescue crews work on extricating Ulrich Sass said Ulrich had been involved in firefighting for 15 years, four of them with Scipio, and had attained the rank of captain.

Sullivan said authorities are not sure what caused Ulrich's condition to deteriorate. An autopsy was scheduled for today. Burnett was ejected from the truck and sustained serious internal injuries. He was initially taken to LaPorte Hospital, then flown to Christ Hospital in Chicago, where he remained in critical condition this morning. Burnett has been with the department for two years. Sass said soon after the accident that he had spoken to Ulrich in the hospital and thought he'd make it. Authorities believe water in the tanker may have shifted, causing the truck to lose balance and flip over.