John Wiechenthal was killed when a pick-up truck rear ended his car on Kalamazoo Avenue just south of 52nd Street in Kentwood on Thursday, Dec. 21.
The 39-year-old father of three worked two jobs, full time as a dispatcher in Ionia County and as a radio personality part time with 93.7 B-93 for the last 19 years.
Dave Taft and Wiechenthal have been friends for nearly two decades.
"He was the guy you wanted to be around and you knew if you were going to be hanging out with him, you were going to have a great time," Taft said.
Taft remembers when Wiechenthal was hired at B-93.
"He was one of those guys who just kept calling the radio station over and over, 'I want to work there, I want to work there,' to the point where he drove us crazy and we hired him just so he would stop calling," Taft said.
Wiechenthal became known as The Canuck.
"He's from up near the Toronto area so he had a love for his Toronto Blue Jays and definitely the Toronto Mapleleafs," Taft said. "He would have been here Saturday night, 7 to midnight."
Someone else will have to take over the microphone.
"It's a mess today; it really is. I just lost my best friend of 19 years. It's very hard to get through today, it really is," Taft said.
The same goes for his coworkers at the Ionia County Dispatch Center.
"We realize that because of the nature the business we're in--tragedies occur all the time, but you don't expect it in your home family," Ionia County Dispatch Center Director Jim Valentine said.
John was awarded for using new technology to save lives while working at the dispatch center.
"He was very technology savvy and would go above and beyond utilizing whatever tools and programs we had available to the dispatchers," Valentine said.
Wiechenthal just celebrated his eight year anniversary.
"It really doesn't matter the size of your operation. If you have 2,000 employees or 14 like we do, we're a family so our perspective is we lost a son," Valentine said.
He was due in for work at dispatch on Thursday night.
"We'll be there for them, we'll be there for them, he was there for us, it's our turn to step up now," Taft said.
John was also very involved in Kentwood American Youth Soccer Organization as a coach for his daughter's team. He spent hours on the fields for practices and games to spend time and be with her.
His family has set up an GoFundMe page to help with funeral arrangements.
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