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Retired firefighter assists injured first responders in electrocution incident

Posted at 10:45 PM, May 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-19 22:45:48-04

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A pair of firefighters injured while trying to help an unresponsive homeowner are recovering Tuesday night. Rene Benkert is being credited assisting by applying CPR.

Benkert has been on disability for two years and her CPR certification is expired, but that didn't stop her from rushing to help. "It just kicks in and you do what you gotta do," she said.

"I know from past experience that when a firefighter goes down, it's family. You have to take care of your family," said Benkert. "I believe everyone should know CPR."

The homeowner, Jason Bearut, 43, of Nunica, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The firefighters, a four-year veteran and 30-year veteran of the Crockery Township Fire Department, were injured while responding to the call for help at Bearut's home on Apple Drive Monday afternoon.

Investigators say Bearut was using a Skytrack lift, which came in contact with a power line.

The line was still live when firefighters arrived. The 4-year veteran was initially unresponsive following the shock, suffering full cardiac arrest.

"Both of them had no pulse, no breathing," said Benkert.

Benkert was notified by a friend on the Crockery Fire Department about the emergency happening on the same road she lives on.

"I was told there was an electrocution down the road," said Benkert. "Training kicked in, I went to see if I could help."

Officials said Monday the use of two automated external defibrillators at the scene likely helped save the four-year veteran's life, along with the Benkert's efforts.

Gary Dreyer, Crockery Township fire chief, is still trying to process the whole event."

"We suffered a tragic event last evening," said Dreyer. "It's one of the toughest events I have ever dealt with in 24 years."

"Our hearts are with the families involved, both the initial victims as well as those of the family of the firefighters," said Dreyer.

The second firefighter, a 49-year-old, 30-year veteran of the fire department, was treated for minor burns and has since been released from the hospital.

The four-year veteran firefighter who suffered cardiac arrest, also expected to be released soon.

Authorities are still investigation what led up to the tragedy.