Deputy dies at scene of accident

1 motorist also killed in Munising 3-vehicle collision

by John Pepin
The Mining Journal
Journal Munising Bureau

Munising -- Alger County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Grahovac was killed Saturday afternoon while helping other emergency staff aid multiple victims of a three-car accident in Munising.

Sharon Zimmerman, 65, of Pendleton, Ore., was also killed. Six people were taken to Munising Memorial Hospital with a range of injuries. Two remain in serious condition at Marquette General Hospital.

Today, deputies said they will never be able to replace Grahovac. "He was like five men in one," said EMT and part-time deputy Shiela Peters. "He gave 120 percent to his job and his family and his friends."

Grahovac, 34, of Munising, was the divorced father of two boys, Alex, 14, and Cody, 11. He had worked as an EMT since 1990 and was made a full-time deputy earlier this year. He was also a certified firefighter with the Munising Township Fire Department. He worked as a 911 dispatcher and was part of Alger County’s Extrication Team.

"I trained him," said Undersheriff Robert Hughes. "He’s going to be really missed here. Paul is someone who would never say no to a call for help." Grahovac was off-duty Saturday, when the report of the three-car crash at the intersection of M-28 and M-94 west was reported shortly before 1 p.m. He went to the scene. Michigan State Police troopers said a westbound vehicle driven by Hong Khang, 63, of Lindenhurst, Ill., ran the stop sign at the intersection. Khang was on M-94, turning west onto M-28.

His vehicle pulled into the path of a eastbound Ford F350 truck driven by Waldon Zimmerman, 60, of Pendleton, Ore. Zimmerman’s vehicle rolled onto its side and slid across the roadway into the path of a westbound pick-up truck driven by Donald Masters, 36, of Munising. Khang, his wife, Bokim, 54, friends Sam Kim, 66, of Chicago, Ill. his wife, Susanne Kim, 64, Waldon Zimmerman and Masters were taken to Munising Memorial Hospital by the Alger County Ambulance Service.

Both of the Kims were transferred to Marquette General Hospital and admitted. Police said the remaining accidents victims were believed to have been treated and released. While working to extricate a victim from the Khang vehicle, a fire truck from the Munising Fire Department came down the Wetmore hill on M-28. There was a malfunction of some type, police said.

The truck had possibly lost its brakes. The fire truck driver, whose name is being withheld by the Alger County Prosecutor, tried to avoid the accident scene, but struck Grahovac. The fire truck ended up in the Anna River. Firefighters had to pry a steering wheel away from the pinned driver. The cab of the truck was filling up with water, deputies said.

The driver’s actions to try to avoid bystanders and other emergency personnel were being described as heroic today by deputies. Troopers were expected to inspect the fire truck today.

Deputy David Latvala said Grahovac came to every emergency deputies responded to.

"Paul Grahovac was a hero. Now he’s a hero everybody else knows about," Latvala said. "He died quickly, doing what he loved to do."

Visitation for Grahovac will be at the Bowerman Funeral Home from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday in Munising. The Alger County Sheriff’s Department will stand honor guard during the visitation.

The following day, at 10 a.m., Pastors Kurt and Mary Beth Kovanen, along with the Rev. Virginia Wasmiller, will conduct funeral services at the Sacred Heart Church in Munising. A friendship gathering will take place after the funeral at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Munising.

Memorials may be made in memory of Grahovac to an account at the Peoples State Bank in Munising.

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