Volunteer firefighter recognized for response to deadly crash

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A volunteer firefighter was recognized for his charismatic actions Wednesday night for what he did on the scene of a deadly crash last year. 

On January 31, 2017 a suspected drunk driver slammed into the Cardinal family’s car. Tom Kaproth, a volunteer firefighter, was the first person on the scene. The three Cardinal children were injured in the accident and their mother, Lindsay, died instantly. 

Kaproth, helped the kids cope with the traumatic day. Lily, who was five years old at the time, suffered bruising from her seatbelt. Wyatt, 4, had a broken leg, cracked pelvis and a severe laceration to his head and 1-year-old Evelyn had a broken femur. 

“She didn’t die in vain,” said Matt Cardinal, who lost his wife in the crash. 

After suddenly becoming a single father, Cardinal also became an advocate. Since the accident, he started working the Department of Public Safety to create a video about living without Lindsay. 

He put her mangled SUV on display as part of the “Toward Zero Deaths” organization. 

Every year Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) recognizes people who have gone above and beyond in situations involving drunk driving accidents. This year he joined MADD to thank Kaproth. 

“After meeting Tom exactly a year after the crash, I found out he played a crucial role in keeping the children calm and safe after they had just experienced the worst day of their lives,” Cardinal said at a MADD ceremony Wednesday night. 

Kaproth was one of nearly 100 first responders, prosecutors and community members recognized for their work fighting against drunk or drugged drivers and advocating for stronger laws. 

“You are a very, very big part of our mission of ending drunk driving,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD National President. 

Kaproth, who received the Outstanding First Responders Award, said he was doing what he was trained to do. What he cherishes most is knowing that the kids are doing the best they can without their mom. 

“It’s hard to relive that moment,” Kaproth said. “But I was very respectful and as I go through finishing off my career, I’ll always remember this moment.” 

The drunk driver police said was at fault in the crash was never charged. He died eight months later from injuries he suffered in the crash.