Orange County

Apopka firefighter defends decision to resign from committee investigating Austin Duran’s death

APOPKA, Fla. — An Apopka firefighter is defending their decision to resign from a safety committee meant to investigate fellow firefighter Austin Duran’s death.

Duran died after he was crushed by a trailer filled with sand.

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Lt. Alex Klepper, one of the firefighters who resigned from the safety committee, said in a meeting Wednesday that he wasn’t allowed to do what he joined the committee to do.

“You cannot have a safety committee, quietly control it from the outside and not take responsibility for your decisions,” Klepper said.

Read: ‘Their hands are tied’: 2 resign from committee to investigate Apopka firefighter’s on-duty death

In December, two firefighters left the committee after they claimed they were met with push-back during a post-incident critique. Then two days later, Mayor Brian Nelson held a news conference to address their claims.

Former Assistant Chief Todd Bankson said Wednesday he had to speak up after the mayor called out his administration during that news conference.

Read: ‘Our hearts are broken’: Apopka mourns line-of-duty death of firefighter Austin Duran

Bankson said during that conference, the mayor questioned why his administration left the trailer in service. Bankson said all fire staff was told not to touch the trailer that was involved.

Commissioner Kyle Becker also called out the fire administration and other city staff saying he wants to know when the fire chief would have answers about what’s been done following Duran’s death, and what’s being investigated and what’s not.

During the meeting, the fire chief also became emotional and assured the city everything is being investigated, but he could not give commissioners an exact answer.

Read: Police report provides more details into how Apopka firefighter was killed by trailer while on duty

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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