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03-19-08, 12:52 PM #1
Two Dispatchers Killed in Five Vehicle Accident
Colleagues grieve over deaths of 2 Elbert sheriff's dispatchers
Monday, March 17, 2008
Dispatcher Richard "Joe" Rockwell and shift supervisor Todd Sielaff were heading home in separate cars to Simla after finishing work at 2 p.m. when they died in a five-vehicle collision that started when a pickup truck clipped a tractor-trailer on U.S. 24 about 31/2 miles west of Calhan in El Paso County.
"Todd and Joe were no-nonsense guys," said Steven West, communications director for Elbert County Dispatch. "They knew the job has to go on. We can't do anything less than what they would have wanted."
The accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. when an eastbound pickup truck driven by Donald Massman, 38, of Colorado Springs, attempted to pass a tractor-trailer despite low visibility because of heavy fog and light snow, the Colorado State Patrol reported. The semi collided with the other vehicles and skidded off the highway, the patrol said.
The tractor-trailer hit Rockwell's 1994 Ford Tempo head-on and and then hit the 2005 Ford Mustang being driven by Sielaff.
Rockwell, 57, and Sielaff, 45, died at the scene. Troopers arrested Massman on two counts of careless driving resulting in death.
The two dispatchers' colleagues did not realize something was wrong until Sielaff's wife called to report that he had not returned home. Elbert officers then searched the two roads the men might have taken. Around 7 p.m., they learned from El Paso County officers that the two were dead.
Kiowa's dispatch center is located in a community small and rural enough that it's not uncommon for a herd of deer to slow traffic as they cross the street outside the Justice Center.
Rockwell and Sielaff were part of a 14-person department that dispatches for the sheriff's department, three police departments, a fire district and several towns.
Several neighboring agencies offered to lend their dispatchers to Elbert while their colleagues get through their grief.
Sielaff had been an Elbert County dispatcher for more than five years. He also served as a volunteer with the Big Sandy Fire Protection District in Simla.
He is survived by a wife and three daughters.
"He was a consummate professional, but one in close touch with the humanity of the job," West said. "He had an ability to not only calm the caller but to keep other dispatchers calm within the center.
"He was Mr. Calm. I never saw him stressed. He is, in fact, the epitome of what a dispatcher should be."
Rockwell joined the dispatch center in December after retiring in 1991 after 20 years with the Army, where he had been a first sergeant. He had worked several jobs before joining Elbert County.
He is survived by a wife and daughter.
"I think he found the niche he was looking for here," West said. "He enjoyed the job.
"A couple of people here referred to him as 'Mr. Sunshine' on the radio. He was always upbeat. He always had a smile on his face."
Their deaths left a hole in the small department, a colleague said. "It'll never be filled," West said. "Todd and Joe will never be replaced. New people will come along and create new memories. But the two of them will be here forever."Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
03-19-08, 01:38 PM #2
03-19-08, 04:20 PM #3
Rest in peace.
03-19-08, 10:37 PM #4
"I used to care
but now I take a pill for that"
03-20-08, 01:05 AM #5
RIP.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
03-20-08, 01:29 AM #6
That really sucks. May they rest in peace
Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer. --Al Bundy
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