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Eau Claire County farmer, firefighter killed in snowblower accident

Eau Claire County (WQOW) – Clearing all this snow has taken the lives of two people in Eau Claire County. The farming community is mourning a farmer, father and volunteer firefighter, who died in a snowblowing accident.

Detective Sergeant Mike Mayer with the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office told News 18 dairy farmer Jim Volbrecht was snowblowing the roof of his barn Friday, when he lost his footing and fell through a skylight; a 30 foot drop to concrete. Authorities said Volbrecht was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It took me, It took the entire community by surprise,” said Mark Hagedorn of Eau Claire County UW-Extension.

Courtesy: UW-Extension

Hagedorn has known Volbrecht since 2013. He said Volbrecht was very involved in agricultural research and helping local farmers. Volbrecht and his family even participated in Breakfast in the Valley and Farm City Days.

“He was very pro-active,” said Hagedorn. “I think the aspect of it that people most recognize and embrace is just what a giving and caring gentleman he was.”

According to Volbrecht’s obituary, his interest in lending a helping hand didn’t stop at the farm. Volbrecht was a Town of Union supervisor and prior town chairman. He also volunteered as a firefighter for the Township Fire Department. Hagedorn said now it’s the communities turn to come together when tragedy strikes.

“Anytime we have a loss like this, it’s felt everywhere and we’re just going to have to do the best we can to be supportive and help carry as much water as we can,” said Hagedorn.

Officials stress you should always be careful removing snow, either by snowblower or by shovel. Safety experts said you should not use a snow blower on your roof.

Unfortunately, Volbrecht’s wasn’t the first snow removal death of 2019. Detective Sergeant Mayer said a man was found dead in a truck. They believe he had a heart attack after shoveling.


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Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt started out as an intern in August 2017, moving to a full-time multi-media journalist and weekend anchor before becoming Daybreak anchor and now our 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor.

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