Former ABQ paramedic seeking help as city threatens to force him out of home
January 19, 2018 10:42 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The most rewarding job as a paramedic turned into one man's nightmare six years ago. That's when one call changed the course of his life, and today his friends are trying to help him get back on track.
In 2011 Craig Koppenhaver was working as a paramedic for Albuquerque ambulance. He remembers the horrific call he and his coworkers got one December day.
“I was familiar with the area, they were not,” he said. "They went the wrong way. I went the right way.”
He arrived on-scene in the South Valley just as a Bernalillo County Fire Rescue unit did. He and two others went into the house, where they found a baby girl just one-month-old sexually abused to death.
“I was living a horror movie and there was nothing that could be done,” Koppenhaver said.
He could eventually no longer work as a paramedic.
In the years that followed, he struggled not only with PTSD from the call, but also financially. He regularly took minimum wage jobs just to have some income. Then, this past September, a series of unfortunate events pushed things over the edge.
He learned his gas meter wasn't compliant. Within weeks, the next problem involved his electricity.
A connection issue forced Koppenhaver to cut the power altogether, and he learned he'd eventually have to re-wire and get his home up to code.
He describes it as a “cascading problem.”
“No electricity. No funds to get the electricity fixed, having to spend money on generator costs, fuel costs," he said.
After months of using generators, he eventually turned to small space heaters and using his car to generate power. Now, the situation has become more dire than ever.
On Jan. 26 the city will deem the property substandard and force Koppenhaver out if it hasn’t been brought up to code.
“He has nowhere else to go," said Mychal Gurule, a close friend who started a fundraising effort to help Koppenhaver out. "So I really want to create that sense of urgency and let people know that the help is so, so needed right now, and it's going to be received with the utmost gratitude."
Luckily, friends like Gurule and Tiffany Grider have stepped up to help save Koppenhaver's home.
“I have the contractors set up and ready to roll. We just have to be able to afford them and get that process going,” says Grider, who met Koppenhaver working as a paramedic.
Koppenhaver said he's thankful for the support, but also wants to use this experience to tell others just like him they are not alone.
"We're human, and so it does go home, it does cause problems in every aspect of our lives. So the reason I want to do this is that any awareness that can come to that," he said. "Anybody that can get help before it falls apart, then maybe it was a little bit worth it.”
To help with fundraising efforts, click here.
Updated: January 19, 2018 10:42 PM
Created: January 19, 2018 10:29 PM
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