IXONIA, Wis. - First responders in Jefferson County are mourning the death of one of their own after an Ixonia EMT died from COVID-19 complications on Thanksgiving.
Kelly Raether's death is being treated as a line of duty death. Her colleagues believe she was exposed to the virus on the job.
A flag flies at half-staff outside of the Ixonia Fire Department for a woman who dedicated her life to helping others.
"Kelly was very good at putting people at ease. She was excellent at communicating," said Ixonia Fire Chief David Schilling.
Raether worked for the department for 15 years and served as an EMS captain. Her locker is now empty.
"It hurts a lot because her and I were together for many many years," Schilling said.
Schilling believes that Raether contracted COVID-19 from a patient she transported, knowing they were positive for the virus at the time.
"Kelly got sick. She went in, got a rapid test for COVID, she went into quarantine, her health declined at home," said Schilling.
Ixonia Fire Department
Raether spent her final days in the hospital.
"She really did think she was going to get better," said Teri Kaul.
Kaul worked with Raether at Carroll University, where she taught nursing.
Ixonia Fire Chief David Schilling
"She really related to students. She was young at heart, she had a good heart," Schilling said.
The Ixonia Fire Department considers Raether's passing to be a line-of-duty death. The 42-year-old will be laid to rest on Saturday morning.
"We are expecting a large number of departments to be coming," said Schilling.
The department is preparing to honor the life of one of their own.
"COVID is a horrible, horrible virus. It doesn’t care who it picks on," Schilling said.
Raether was also a nurse at Aurora Medical Center in Washington County. They say she will be greatly missed.