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St. Robert firefighter dies Saturday following ATV wreck east of FLW
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (May 31, 2010) — Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Leech, 38, was used to dangerous duty. He’d spent most of his adult life in the Army and less than a year ago had returned from a deployment to Iraq; in his off-duty time, he volunteered as a St. Robert city firefighter and planned to become a full-time firefighter for the city when he retired from the Army in two years.

However, his death Friday night wasn’t due to fighting fires or fighting Iraqi insurgents, but rather due to an ATV crash on a river bottom road east of Fort Leonard Wood.

Funeral arrangements aren’t yet complete and full obituary information isn’t yet available, but Deputy Chief Drew Cassidy of the St. Robert Fire Department said tentative plans call for holding a Thursday memorial service on Fort Leonard Wood, where Leech lived and where he was an engineer section chief at the Maneuver Support Center.

“He was dependable, a humble guy, and firefighting was what he wanted to do,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said Leech became a St. Robert firefighter about four years ago when he was previously stationed at Fort Leonard Wood prior to his deployment to Iraq. Leech’s family moved to Fort Riley, Kan., during his deployment, but moved back to Fort Leonard Wood about nine to 10 months ago when Leech returned from a deployment to Iraq.

“With this being Memorial Day, a lot of things are waiting until Tuesday when everybody gets back,” Cassidy said. “A memorial has not yet been established; I don’t think they’ve even thought about it yet. At the fire department we are doing the normal things of providing meals.”

Survivors include his wife Tracy; seven children, Tiffany, Kristie, Kheli, Khodi, Katelyn, Nathan and Richard; and seven grandchildren, Sean, Logan, Ava, Addison, Kaeden, Kryslyn and Nevaeh.

Leech had excelled in his volunteer firefighting work, Cassidy said.

“We were just about to promote him to senior firefighter,” Cassidy said. “He was always there, he always took time out of his schedule. We have a lot of people on the fire department who are firefighters but don’t show up very often. He was always there for calls and training and doing what he could … Being a sergeant first class, he was a natural leader and he knew how to get people to do what we want.”

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, Leech had been riding a 2004 Suzuki ATV westbound on Ticket Road in Phelps County about five miles east of the post when he ran off the left side of the roadway at 10:30 p.m. Friday and struck two trees; his ATV overturned and ejected him onto the roadway. Leech was transported by Fort Leonard Wood ambulance personnel to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital but pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. Saturday.

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