20 Years Later: Honoring the Memory of an Illinois Firefighter, Teacher Who Died in Bizarre Mowing Accident in Bourbonnais


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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Local firefighters are remembering a beloved community member killed 20 years ago today after suffering a Line of Duty Death (LODD) in a mowing accident.

Firefighter Bruce Spaulding tragically died in an accident at the Bourbonnais Fire Protection District while on duty on April 26th, 2003.

Spaulding had a long and distinguished career serving his community and teaching fire science classes at the Kankakee Area Career Center. 

Spaulding had retired from the Bradley Fire Department due to injury and joined Bourbonnais Fire Protection District as a paid-on-call member while continuing to teach at KACC. 

At the time of his death, Spaulding was mowing the fire station’s lawn on a riding mower when the mower hit a retaining wall, causing him to be thrown off the mower and suffer fatal injuries in a ditch.  

He died later that day at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. 

Spaulding, a Bourbonnais native, retired early from Bradley Fire Department due to injury. He started and mentored the Fire/Rescue training program at Kankakee Area Career Center. He also served as Cadet Advisor for Bourbonnais Fire Protection District. In 2002, he returned as a paid-on-call firefighter after his health improved. 

He would later be honored years later at the Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial weekend at National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland in October 2009.

Spaulding’s death was initially recognized as LODD by the State of Illinois, and later by the federal government in 2008. 

At the time of his death, Spaulding was survived by his widow Denise, children Becky and Brian, and step-children Krista and Andrew.


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