NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - Sergeant Derek McConnell, the North Caldwell veteran who served in Afghanistan and was severely injured, died yesterday.
While walking through an area of improvised explosive devices (IED) on July 23, 2011, McConnell stepped on two IED's simultaneously and ultimately lost both his legs, fractured his skull and right arm and sustained kidney damage. McConnell had been attempting to rescue another soldier.
His mother, Siobhan Fuller, wrote about her son on her Caring Bridge blog.
Born in 1989, McConnell was a 2008 graduate of West Essex High School. He entered the U.S.Army in January 2010. After finishing Airborne training, he was assigned to Catamount, B Co, 2-87 at Fort Drum, New York. Derek's deployment began on March 18, 2011 when he shipped out to Afghanistan.
In December of 2011, the US Navy released a photo of McConnell posing with his mother, Siobhan, his fiancee, Krystina Dressler and three therapy dogs.
Therapy dogs Lt. Cmdr. Bobbie, Rear Adm. Laura Lee and Marine Sgt. Archie pose for a photo with Army Pfc. Derek McConnell and his fiancee, Krystina Dressler, and his
mother, Siobhan McConnell, in McConnell's hospital room at Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
McConnell and his fiancee and high school sweetheart, Krystina Dressler, had recently won “The Knot’s” wedding contest. On March 5, Dressler posted on her online blog “Now on to other exciting wedding news!” and went on to describe her plans for her wedding dress and their upcoming wedding.
Credit: Krystina Dressler
Monday night, McConnell's mother Siobhan wrote in a public statement, “It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that our hero, Derek, deployed to Heaven today. He fought hard right until the end. He will be missed and never forgotten. Sleep with the angels, my brave, strong boy.”
McConnell is survived by his mother, Siobhan, his fiancee Krystina Dressler, and his four siblings, Michael, Kellina, Ryan, and Sean.
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Wed, January 17, 6:30 pm Caldwell Essex Photo Club Exhibit and Lecture at Caldwell Public Library