Special Forces soldier dies in Florida motorcycle crash
By LAUREN SAGE REINLIE | Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach) | Published: February 11, 2014
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The 28-year-old motorcyclist killed Saturday afternoon in a wreck south of Crestview, Fla., was a soldier with the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Staff Sgt. Andrew Koerner died after his motorcycle crashed into a pickup truck on State Road 85. A 73-year-old woman from Crestview who was in the truck also was killed.
“This is a tragic incident, and the hearts and prayers of the soldiers and families of the 7th Special Forces Group are with everyone involved,” Col. Robert Kirila, the 7th Group’s deputy commander, said Tuesday. “Staff Sgt. Koerner was an outstanding warrior who will be missed by his teammates and all who knew him.”
The news of Koerner’s death reverberated through the Special Forces community early this week.
On Tuesday, Kristin Freehling-Steiner posted a note from Koerner’s friend and teammate, Kyle Steiner, on the Daily News Facebook page: “With a heavy heart … all the way from Afghanistan.”
“ ‘Rest in Peace Buddy, you will be missed; by myself and the entire Team.’ ”
A native of Fond du Lac, Wis., Koerner joined the Army in July 2008. He attended basic and advanced training at Fort Benning, Ga., before graduating as an infantryman.
Koerner was assigned to the 31st Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division when he first deployed to Iraq in 2009 for almost a year.
After his deployment, he volunteered for the Special Forces, earning his Green Beret and joining the 7th Group in August 2012. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Parachutist Badge.
He is survived by his mother, Pamela, of Fond du Lac, Wis., and father, Jeffrey, of Waupun, Wis., according to the 7th Group.
Koerner was the second local servicemember killed while riding a motorcycle in less than a week.
Senior Airman Ignacio Arostegui, stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, died Feb. 3 after he crashed his motorcycle into the back of a pickup truck on U.S. Highway 98 in Destin, Fla.
In Saturday’s wreck, Koerner’s motorcycle collided with the passenger side of the pickup truck as it was trying to cross State Road 85 from Lake Silver Road to Houston Lane, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Koerner died at the scene. He was wearing a helmet.
The passenger in the truck, 73-year-old Virginia Settles, died later at a hospital in Pensacola, Fla.
The FHP had not yet released the cause of the accident as of Tuesday.