Frenchtown Firefighter Kyle Rauch was one of the first responders who arrived early Wednesday morning to assist with the multiple crashes and injuries that occurred due to severe black ice conditions.

Spokesman Mel Holtz said on Friday that Rauch had had successful surgery after falling nearly 40 feet after sliding off a bridge deck and falling over 40 feet.

“He was in surgery for three to four hours and they were able to repair a broken leg, so he is recovering now and in good spirits,” said Holtz. “He fell 40 feet, it was actually a free fall off that bridge and then he rolled down the embankment, so it could have been much worse and we’re so thankful that he is going to be OK.”

Holtz said all of western Montana has rallied to support Rauch and his family after the accident on Wednesday.

“People are so supportive, we’ve received so many phone calls not only from partner agencies around the state, actually,” he said. “It is a work-comp claim, so his medical expenses are covered, but the Frenchtown Firefighter community did start a Go Fund Me page to help with travel and other expenses for his family, and we’re all very appreciative.”

Two truckers were killed on Wednesday during the black ice incident. 32-year-old Jatinderpal Singh of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, died when his semi crashed into other semis that had wrecked just east of Superior.

Another man, 30-year-old Vilyam Veresko of Moses Lake, Washington, died when he got out of his wrecked semi, jumped over a guardrail to avoid oncoming traffic and fell to his death.

Holtz took the opportunity to remind drivers to slow down and watch for emergency personnel during inclement weather conditions, and to move to the other side of the highway for their safety.

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