Birmingham man falls to death doing good deed
By RICHARD PAYERCHIN The Morning Journal
BROWNHELM TOWNSHIP — A local motorsports enthusiast fell to his death while helping store furniture for an elderly aunt this week.
However, his life will continue helping others through organ donation, his sister said.
Kevin Charles Bechtel, 48, died Wednesday at a Toledo hospital due to head trauma he suffered in a fall inside his workshop, said his sister, Barb Bechtel, of Amherst. His death came as a shock for the family, she said.
“He was a wonderful brother who will be greatly missed by his family and his many, many friends and work associates,” Barb Bechtel said.
A 1980 graduate of Firelands High School, Bechtel began working in auto parts at age 14 in the Vermilion NAPA store.
He continued working in auto part sales and distribution and rose to become wholesale markets manager for the NAPA Carrollton Distribution Center near Canton. Bechtel worked with large-scale auto and truck part buyers ranging across northern Ohio and into Pennsylvania and West Virigina, Barb Bechtel said.
“He enjoyed people immensely, and I think he was very good at meeting and getting to know anybody and everybody, so he was really good at his job and enjoyed it,” Barb Bechtel said.
Bechtel also was an accomplished downhill skier, making trips to mountains out west to seek out fresh powder. “He had the knee surgeries to prove that,” Barb Bechtel said. “That didn’t stop him. He was pretty good. I didn’t know if he liked Colorado or Utah better. Both those states were favorites.”
When not traveling for work or play, Bechtel lived in Birmingham with his father, Donald Bechtel. The younger Bechtel drove for his dad and enjoyed cooking and canning the vegetables from their garden. One specialty was POC, his own blend of vegetable juice with tomatoes, pepper, onions and celery, his sister said. Bechtel also was saving money to build a home on the 2-acre parcel he owned along the Vermilion River.
He also raced stock cars for two seasons at the Lorain Speedway and he co-owned a 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder with his twin brother, Kent. Bechtel had built his workshop on the land he owned. “That was one of his major loves, cars and automotive and anything that moved,” Barb Bechtel said. “Most of his friends were quite jealous, building the ultimate garage first.”
On Tuesday, the brothers were at the garage storing furniture for their aunt, Margaret Petersen, who was spending time rehabilitating a broken hip, Barb Bechtel said. They put the items atop a loft inside the workshop. Bechtel accidentally stepped off the edge, falling about 10 to 12 feet and hitting his head, Barb Bechtel said. “It was doing a good deed,” she said.
His brother immediately called 911 for a South Amherst Fire Department rescue squad. Bechtel was flown to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he died on Wednesday.
Bechtel enjoyed good health and his heart was donated to a person in Pennsylvania, with his liver and kidneys going to recipients in Ohio, Barb Bechtel said. About 11 years ago, a friend through Brownhelm United Church of Christ received a lung transplant that allowed him to live another decade and see his grandchild.
“We’re trying to lean on that,” Barb Bechtel said. “We’ve seen it in the past and we’re certainly hoping Kevin’s life will go on in a few people.”
Funeral arrangements are pending through Hempel Funeral Home in Amherst. The Bechtel family also hopes people will learn more about organ donation through Donate Life, a state program with information at http://www.donatelifeohio.org./