Burn victim gets support on long road to recovery - Republic-Times | News

Burn victim gets support on long road to recovery

By on October 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

The Waterloo Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge 27 donated $1,000 to Dan Krebel. Pictured, from left, Steve Crook, Steve Otten and Tom Wetzler of the Odd Fellows present the check to Dan’s daughter, Ally Krebel, and Krebel Crawl organizer Brian Werner on Saturday.
(Kermit Constantine photo)

When a routine job earlier this month turned into a fiery explosion at a home near Burksville, local plumber Dan Krebel narrowly missed escaping with his life.

Dan was performing work at the home of Kenneth and Katrina Kloepper in the 5300 block of Lemen Road off Kaskaskia Road. 

“We learned from the homeowner that some repairs were being made and the pilot lights were being lit at the time of the explosion,” Waterloo Fire Chief Brett Wiegand said.

Wiegand said the house was a complete loss. Kenneth Kloepper was in the home at the time, but suffered only a minor injury while his pets died. The Kloepper family has a GoFundMe account set up at gofundme.com/2c7jkzg.

Terri and Dan Krebel

Dan’s recovery
Dan, 41, suffered severe burns and spent two weeks in the hospital. After treatment for first, second and third degree burns to his face, hands, arms and side, a skin graft surgery, colonoscopy, and the discovery of a blood clot, he is finally at home with his wife, Terri.

A long road to recovery awaits the Red Bud man. However, Dan, who is a Waterloo Optimist Club member, said he feels more than positive about the results of his healing thus far.

“Every day is a better day. I’ve really come a long way,” he said. “You know, you get to a point where everything is challenging and you hit rock bottom. But now I’m healing and working my way up the hill.”

Dan’s left arm is wrapped in bandages from the wrist up after the skin graft surgery. When a part of the body loses skin from a burn, the surgery is performed by removing skin from another area of the body and transplanting it to the affected area — in this case, the skin came from one of his legs.

“It was a 100 percent success. The surgeon told me he was happy with it,” Dan said. “It couldn’t look better. It all took the way it was supposed to and we don’t have to do anything over again.”

Dan will need to wear the wrap for about a year. Additionally, he continues work on muscle movement in the areas he received burns.

“I have to keep moving. If I sit still for two hours, it’s like I didn’t do anything,” he said, adding he has a hard time gripping objects. “It helps get back the muscle work. It’s like I’m retraining my muscles to do what used to come natural.” 

As for why he didn’t need a skin graft for his burns to his other arm and face, Dan said they healed well on their own.

“The doctors just couldn’t believe it,” Terri said. “They really think it’s a miracle.”

Not every aspect of healing has gone smoothly, though.

Dan came out of the hospital a couple weeks ago, only to return when he began bleeding internally and the doctors couldn’t immediately figure out the source. Not until four days later did he return home with the bleeding stopped and, unfortunately, a blood clot in one of his legs.

“That’s where I hit rock bottom. It seemed like I had one good thing going, and then this pops up,” Dan said.

He also cannot go on blood thinners for the clot since his blood counts are low from the internal bleeding. According to Terri, they continue to monitor the clot and hope it gets better.

Community support
Dan is also limited in his ability to receive house guests because he runs the risk of infection. Thanks to the generosity in the community, that hasn’t stopped people from sticking a hot meal in a cooler on his driveway every night.

Family members also consistently check in on his condition.

“This community is unbelievable. I can’t even describe it,” Dan said. “It’s people I don’t even know that have come and helped. It’s a hot meal every night. I couldn’t ask for any more support from the community.

“It’s hard to explain. I don’t know how to thank them all. It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t have done it without prayers. My wife has been with me 24 hours a day.

“I don’t know what I’d have done without her. I couldn’t have done this without her. There’s no way. It makes you cry. I’ve sat down and prayed from what the community has done.

“You don’t think you make an impact, but then something like this happens and people are willing to help. Obviously I’ve done something.”

Terri also feels a deep sense of appreciation.

“Even the 4-H group has come by and brought home products ­— things that take time to get,” she said. “People even put up our home decorations one day when we were out.

“I came home and fall decorations were out on our yard. It’s small things that make a difference.”

To supplement the Krebels’ income, while Dan rests and Terri stays home full-time to take care of him, the community participated in a Krebel Crawl fundraiser Saturday in Waterloo. Dan’s friend, Brian Werner, coordinated the event.

The bars in downtown Waterloo had buckets throughout the day to collect donations for Dan, as well as drink specials such as “plumber’s punch.” Werner also sold Krebel Crawl t-shirts and other merchandise.

Werner will not know fundraising totals from the event until the weekend as establishments continue their collections, though he did sell every bit of merchandise other than seven wristbands. He estimated 150 to 250 people participated in the crawl.

“It was pretty amazing to see that kind of support,” he said of the turnout. “If what was in the buckets is any indication, we did really good.”

Werner said he didn’t have a goal amount for what to raise, but every little bit helps.

“It was rewarding doing this. Knowing what they do and being able to help them in this way — it was overwhelming to see the sea of blue shirts,” he said.

A YouCaring page has been set up for those wishing to donate to the Krebel family at youcaring.com/dankrebel-983717.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net