Duane “Chub” Sudholt of Belleville was an energetic man who would always help out anyone who needed a boost.
That’s how family members described Sudholt, who died Wednesday after he suffered burn injuries when his riding lawn mower rolled over and caught on fire in Shiloh. He was 74.
Jolene Ahn, a niece of Sudholt, said her uncle was always on the go. “I couldn’t keep up with him, that’s for sure.”
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“He was a really great guy,” said Ahn of Belleville. “He would do anything for anybody and not ask for anything in return.”
Ahn said her uncle loved to decorate his Cheshire Drive home at Christmas.
Donald Hempen, a brother-in-law of Sudholt, said he was in shock after hearing about Sudholt’s death. Hempen said he talked to Sudholt on Saturday and he was in “good spirits.” Hempen, who lives near Chicago, said Sudholt “was willing to do anything for you.”
Marlene Pearson, another niece of Sudholt, said he “was an awesome uncle and an even more awesome brother.”
Sudholt died at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur, Mo., after he was airlifted there.
John Marquart, the village administrator for Shiloh, said Sudholt was working for Minton, a landscaping company in Belleville.
A representative from Minton could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Shiloh had a three-year contract with another landscaping company to cut the right of way in various parts of the village, and Marquart said he had preliminary information that Minton had taken over this contract.
Before Sudholt worked for Minton, he owned a lawn care business, Sudholt Lawn Service, for 25 years. He also worked for Kroger’s grocery store in the produce section for 25 years.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has began investigating the circumstances of Sudholt’s death, said Karl Armstrong, the assistant area director in Fairview Heights. Armstrong said OSHA is trying to confirm whether Sudholt was an employee of a company. If so, OSHA would then have jurisdiction for an investigation.
The agency would then determine if the company was following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the lawn mower Sudholt was using.
Sudholt was mowing grass about 7:50 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Parkland Boulevard and Frank Scott Parkway. He was working on an embankment in front of an apartment building when his mower tipped over. Gasoline spilled and was ignited by the hot engine, catching both the machine and Sudholt on fire.
Shiloh Police Sgt. Kyle Bade on Wednesday said Sudholt apparently suffered burns over 50 percent of his body.
After the mower tipped over and caught fire, Sudholt crawled away and ran down the street with his clothes on fire. Bade said passers-by helped put out the flames on Sudholt.
Sudholt was rushed by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in Belleville where an ARCH medical evacuation helicopter was waiting on the pad to fly him to the burn unit at Mercy Hospital.
Kassly Mortuary in Fairview Heights is handling the funeral arrangements for Sudholt, who is survived by his wife, Rita, who previously worked for Kassly.