Medical examiner identifies man killed by car collapse in northeast Spokane

The Spokane County Medical Examiner has identified the man who was killed on Thursday when his car collapsed on him.

The medical examiner said 55-year-old Ronald J. Wittkopf died by asphyxiation and ruled his death an accident.

#BREAKING: One man is dead after a car collapsed on him in his driveway near Ralph and Bridgeport Ave in Spokane.

Man called tow company for assistance with his car, and while they were there he was trying to help by doing something under the car before it collapsed on him.

— Maher Kawash (@MaherKXLY) December 5, 2019

Wittkopf was working on his truck and called a tow company to help him. Once the tow company arrived, he was trying to disconnect something under the car so it could be towed away.

The emergency brake on the truck was not set on at the time.

The car collapsed and Wittkopf was pronounced dead on the scene.

Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the extrication equipment was still on its way to the scene at the time. So, his crew used tools in Wittkopf’s garage to create their own jack within two minutes.

“They gave the gentleman every chance they possibly could have to save his life, and unfortunatley he didn’t respond,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer said even if his crew did have the original equipment, it likely wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

“It may have taken us even longer to set all that up than it did for the firefighters to take the equipment they had and build up the system and lift up the truck themselves,” Schaeffer said.

Neighbors also tell us Whitkopff had a daughter who is now in her early 20’s.

A family friend to the victim offered this sentiment, “He was an amazing man, father, brother and friend. He was there when you needed him, and my heart aches for his family.”

No family should have to go through such an awful accident, so firefighters tell us even if you work on your car all the time, make sure you always consider safety precautions first.

“If you’re under your car performing an oil change or any work like that, make sure it is blocked up or chalked up, so if the unpredictable does actually happen and it falls, you’ve got that safeguard,” Schaeffer said.