Brownsburg school lobby dedicated to firefighter killed in car crash

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It's a crash that rattled a community and forever changed a Brownsburg family.

Nearly four years ago, on September 23, 2010, an accident on State Road 267 killed a firefighter just feet from his home, where he lived with his wife and then-twin three-year-old children.

The family of Duane Clark is honoring him, thanks to a new school building, offering a special tribute to the fallen hero to keep his legacy alive.

The brand new St. Malachy Church and School was officially blessed Wednesday.

Nearly 450 students start their day through the entry hall, where they are greeted by the memory of Duane Clark.

"He would never in his wildest dreams imagine this," said his widow, Kate Clark.

The entry way is dedicated to the late IFD firefighter and received a blessing Wednesday. It's a moment the family holds dear, just like the pictures they have, including a picture of their trip to the zoo.

"That was the Saturday before he was killed and he was killed on Thursday," Kate Clark explained.

Duane was on his way home from IFD Station 6 when a semi crashed into him right in front of their Brownsburg home.

"The noise made the windows shake," Kate remembers. "I knew in my heart it was Duane."

She knew to expect the worst when the tarp - and eventually a flag that came from a neighboring post office - came out to cover his body, including a hero's salute.

"Don't cover that car. Please don't cover that car," she remembers screaming. "Because when they cover the car that means there's a fatality."

No criminal charges were filed against the semi driver.

In the four years since that day, a lot has changed.

"I miss him," son Mason said Wednesday while looking at the plaque.

His twins, Molly and Mason, are now seven. Kate has remarried and lost 180 pounds.

"The worst event in my life helped me become a better person," she said.

Now a memorial in her late husband's memory sits low in the hallway. That's by design.

"I did it so they could see their dad every morning because Duane loved St. Malachy and was proud to be an alumni," Kate Clark said.

And proud, too, are his partners in the line of duty.

"We'd always banter back and forth and I miss that," said IFD Private Chris Covey.

"I always like to refer to him as our moral compass at the station. He was quiet, he didn't say a whole lot, he let his actions speak for him," said retired IFD firefighter David Shell.

Now, it's his family's actions that will forever remembers a modest hero in the lobby of this brand new school.

"I know he's here with us. He would say, 'Why are we doing this?'" Kate said with a laugh.