Body in burned car; Milwaukee fire chief offers apology for 'lapse'

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski offered an apology on Tuesday, Jan. 11 to the family of the deceased woman that was found inside a vehicle that crashed and burned near 76th and Green Tree on Sunday morning. 

Jenna Reichartz, 21, was found hours later by a worker at the tow lot. 

Surveillance video shows a car engulfed in flames Sunday morning. MFD crews arrived around 5:45, and officials say they had the fire under control in around a half-hour. Once the fire was out, Chief Lipski says the crews missed a critical step.

"I want it to ring very clear that a search of a recently extinguished vehicle is our responsibility, and we failed to uphold that standard in this situation," he said.

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Firefighters failed to find the body in the back seat. Around three hours later, a worker at the city's tow lot found it.

"On behalf of the Milwaukee Fire Department, I am so very sorry for the additional pain this has caused the family, beyond already dealing with this horribly tragic situation," said Chief Lipski.

Chief Lipski apologized to the family at a press conference Tuesday afternoon while also discussing the investigation into how this happened.

"We clearly want to know who was where, and who saw what," said Lipski. "Who did what at different times around the scene?"

Lipski said around 25 people from the department were there Sunday morning. Everyone will remain on the job until the investigation is complete.

"We don’t like misses," said Lipski. "We don’t like misses. We have to do everything we can to prevent them."

The Milwaukee Police Department said Tuesday the investigation into her death is ongoing, but there is no indication that she was a victim of homicide. The medical examiner's report indicates she may have been the driver and it was the force of the fire hoses that moved her to the back seat. 

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