Surrounded by her firefighting family Wednesday, Janet Haudenschild, the widow of Mark Haudenschild II, spoke about the life of her husband, a man she described as "compassionate, caring and loving of everyone."
Behind her, newly printed on the side of a Washington Township fire truck were blue letters that read "In memory of 686 Mark Haudenschild II."
Haudenschild died Sunday night after losing control of a tanker truck and crashing on his way to a brush fire.
About 8:40 p.m., he was headed south on Hillegas Road and tried to make a right turn to go west on Butler Road when the truck rolled several times and hit three utility poles. The truck came to rest on its side, just off Hillegas, about 100 yards south of the intersection.
Haudenschild worked as a tech with Comcast for six years and served as an assistant chief engineer with the fire department for five years.
From early in their dating relationship, Janet recalled hearing of his desire to volunteer at the Washington Township Fire Department. He always expressed a need to help others, she said.
"There was a big fear in me that this would happen, but I still felt I could not stop him from doing something he really wanted," she said.
Mark and Janet were married in August 2007. Together, they had two children – a 1-year-old daughter Kyra and 3-year-old son, Mark Haudenschild III.
"Our son was his buddy. Our little girl he adored with all his heart," Janet said. "He was a very good man to everybody, especially us."
Janet described the challenges she's faced in recent days, of putting her daughter to sleep at night and staying strong for her children.
"My son he seems lost, like he's looking for him … and I feel like my daughter is the same. She has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at times," she said. "I think they're both feeling that something is going on."
Janet said she's already begun putting together letters, photos and memorabilia to share with her children when they are older.
"I want them to see first-hand what happened, rather than just hearing about their father," she said.
For more on this story see Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.