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Goshen woman grieving husband's death after his phone pinged to morgue

NOW: Goshen woman grieving husband’s death after his phone pinged to morgue

GOSHEN, Ind. --- A Goshen woman grieved a heavy loss on Wednesday—just one week after learning that her disabled veteran husband was killed in a fatal car accident a state away.

The widow had not learned of her husband’s death until Goshen police pinged Ernie Kiehl’s phone and found it at a morgue in Paxton, Illinois.

The fatal accident happened on October 23 and after one week, Roxanne Dunn-Kiehl still does not have her husband’s death certificate or police report. The official cause of Ernie’s death remains unknown.

“We still want the answers… what happened to Ernie,” said Dunn-Kiehl, Ernie’s wife.

Dunn-Kiehl told ABC 57 that she called police after Ernie and his service dog, Minnie, never came home.

Ernie was driving from Texas, where he had just sold his home and planned to permanently live with his wife.

Ernie had sustained injuries during his time in service and was a critical heart patient. In recent months, Ernie’s health started to deteriorate. The couple planned to sell their Goshen home and had just purchased an RV to travel around the country in.

Ernie was four hours away from home when Dunn-Kiehl said she last spoke to her husband. Dunn-Kiehl told ABC 57 that her husband said he was getting tired and that his vehicle may have had an exhaust leak.

Dunn-Kiehl asked Ernie to stop and rest, but he continued to push through the drive.

After 10 hours passed and Ernie and Minnie never came home, Dunn-Kiehl contacted various hospitals in his last known location.

Dunn-Kiehl then contacted Goshen police who pinged Ernie’s phone and discovered it at a morgue in Paxton, Illinois.

Without a death certificate or police report, Dunn-Kiehl still does not know exactly what happened. ABC 57 spoke to Richard Flessner, Ford County Coroner, who said they are awaiting the official autopsy report and death certificate.

Flessner confirmed Kiehl crashed into a guardrail. Due to Kiehl’s heart condition, it is possible that Kiehl may have died from a heart attack.

“He was all I had,” said Dunn-Kiehl. “My husband was all I had. Hopefully going to recover from missing him so much. When you miss somebody and you know they’re not coming back…it just, hurts…it hurts in the stomach and the heart, but Minnie and I are grieving and we’ll get through it Minnie,” said Dunn-Kiehl.

Ernie’s service dog, Minnie, was in the car at the time of the crash and survived.

Minnie was held at a vet clinic in Paxton until Jeremy Stutsman, Goshen mayor, heard about the tragic accident.

Stutsman along with Goshen officers made arrangements with a pilot to bring Minnie home to Dunn-Kiehl.

“They’re my heroes and it means the world to me what they did,” said Dunn-Kiehl.

Dunn-Kiehl told ABC 57 that without the help of everyone involved to bring Minnie home, she doesn’t know where she would be today.

“Thank you just doesn’t seem to be, it doesn’t seem to repay in any way,” said Dunn-Kiehl. “If there was a way to pay forward, that’s what I want to do,” said Dunn-Kiehl.

Dunn-Kiehl told ABC 57 that she wants everyone in the community to know how thankful she is that strangers worked so hard to bring Minnie home, including:

Mayor Jeremy Stutsman

Assistant Chief Turner

Special Officer Carich

Captain DK Miller

Officer Mosher

Paxton Veterinary Clinic

Randy Sharkey—Goshen Air Center

Kristi Garris—Goshen Air Center

Nevin Hershberger—Pilot

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