Surprise visit from a grateful survivor

Local resident rescued from June 30 crash stops by to thank first responders

CAR CRASH SURVIVOR Luke Check visited the Grafton Fire Department during the swearing-in ceremony of firefighter Thomas Schoofs on Sunday. Department members saved Check’s life last month when he was involved in a five-vehicle crash. Among the attendees were (above, from left) Fire Chief Bill Rice, Luke, Kate and Cameron Check and Schoofs. Below, Schoofs, who responded to Check’s accident, posed with a celebratory cake during the ceremony. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Car crash survivor Luke Check is thankful to be alive and with his two-month-old daughter after being rescued from a five-vehicle accident last month.

When the Grafton Fire Department swore in its first full-time firefighter Thomas Schoofs on Sunday, July 15, Check made a surprise visit to the fire station to thank the first responders who saved his life June 30.

“When I saw you (Check) that afternoon, I really didn’t know if I would see you again,” Fire Chief Bill Rice told Check. “You were in a pretty bad spot at the time.”

The accident occurred at the intersection of Port Washington and Pioneer roads when a Mercedes sports utility vehicle failed to stop at a red light and struck four vehicles as it sped through the intersection.

“We see debris fields in the road all the time, but it’s not often that we see tires, springs, alternators and engine mounts,” Rice said.

Check, a 34-year-old Grafton resident, was driving a black GMC pickup truck that was destroyed in the crash. After first responders, including Schoofs, extricated Check from the truck, he was taken by a Flight for Life helicopter to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

“The worst part was the heat. It was about 96 degrees and my truck was black,” Check said. “They couldn’t give me water because they knew I was going to need to get surgery.”

Check suffered a dislocated elbow, torn ligaments and severed tendons in his fingers, as well as a broken wrist and nose. He said he will begin physical therapy next month but won’t recover full mobility in his elbow.

“I was living a nightmare. It was the worst day of my life,” Check’s wife Kate said.

“I don’t know what I would do without him.”

The driver of the Mercedes SUV, Omasanjuwa Olufolahan Wyse — a 28-year-old man from Shorewood — has been charged with recklessly endangering safety, a felony that is punishable by five years in prison, five years of extended supervision and $25,000 in fines.

Witnesses reported that Wyse was traveling at 80 to 100 mph when he sped through the intersection. 

Bystanders who were helping Wyse told responders that he made comments about taking LSD, adding he was not making sense, according to a law enforcement official. Wyse was also taken to Froedtert, where a blood sample was taken for a toxicology analysis, which is not available.

Check said he has always appreciated the service of first responders because his father was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years with the Silver Creek Fire Department in Manitowoc. 

After his experience, he said, words can’t describe his gratitude for the people who saved his life.

“I wouldn’t be here without them,” he said. “I’m very grateful that the first responders got there so fast and there were so many of them, too.”

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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