NEWCASTLE - A 16-year-old student firefighter was killed Thursday on the way to a nighttime fire call when the fire truck she was riding in left the road and rolled. The Weston County firefighter who was driving the truck has been arrested on charges of Driving Under the Influence.
Andee Huber, a 10th grader at Newcastle High School was ejected from the cab of the Freightliner tanker truck when driver Ron J. Caillier, 46, of Newcastle, lost control of the vehicle, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
The state patrol said the truck drifted off the roadway on a hard-pack county road 4.4 miles south of U.S. 85 and rolled 1 3/4 times.
Neither the driver nor the passenger were wearing seatbelts. Highway Patrol Sgt. Stephen Townsend confirmed the 1981 Freightliner tanker truck was equipped with seatbelts.
A total of five vehicles were responding to a fire at 10:15 p.m. at the time of the accident, according to the Highway Patrol report.
Townsend said Huber was taken to a hospital in the area - it was unclear which - where she was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Caillier was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and was still being held with no bond at the Weston County Detention Facility on Friday morning. Additional charges are pending.
Caillier was treated for cuts and abrasions.
Weston County Sheriff Bill Ware and Weston County Fire Warden Kenny Williams were unavailable Friday and instructed their office staff not to comment about the incident to the media.
The youngest of four children of Gary and Sharon Huber of Newcastle, Andee was active in track and swimming, as well as the Explorer program, through which she was able to train to be a firefighter, according to her brother Kevin Huber. The Explorer program allowed students who passed a physical test to travel to fires and help with clean up and water supply, he said.
"She was the greatest," he said, tearfully describing his 5-foot, four-inch, brown-haried sister. "How many 16 year olds do you know who want to be firefighters? She was 16 years old and she loved life. She loved her friends, she loved her family."
A funeral for Huber is tentatively planned for Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Newcastle High School, Kevin Huber said. Fidler/Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance is in charge of arrangements.
Besides her parents, Huber, a Newcastle native, is survived by three siblings, Kevin of Casper, Teri Pikul of Casper and Hayden Huber; grandmothers Ina Huber of Alliance, Neb., and Verna Clark of Sundance.
Hayden Huber has been deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman out of Norfolk, Va. He returned to port today after six months at sea for Operation Iraqi Freedom only to hear the news of his sister's death, Kevin Huber said.
Huber's is the 47th death on Wyoming roadways so far this year. At this time last year, there had been 44 fatalities, according to the Highway Patrol.
Townsend said the tragedy should remind travelers of highway safety this Memorial Day weekend.
"That's exactly what we are going to be looking for this Memorial Day weekend: Drinking and driving, moving violations and safety belts," Townsend said. "We will be aggressively enforcing the seatbelt law."
Currently, law enforcement officers cannot issue a citation for a seatbelt violation unless they also issue a citation for something else, Townsend said. But that will change on July 1 when a new law goes into affect. Officers will then be able to issue a seatbelt citation even if they don't issue a citation for some other offense.
Townsend said a seatbelt violation alone does not warrant a traffic stop, however. The traffic stop must be based on some other violation.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol deployed extra troopers on patrol beginning Friday afternoon, and the extra-large force will remain until midnight on Monday, Townsend said.