Prayer vigil held for Empire Volunteer Firefighter in ICU

EMPIRE, OK (KSWO) - Community members in Empire held a prayer vigil on Tuesday night for an Empire Firefighter who's in ICU at a trauma center following a freak accident.

Friends said JR Kraus was mowing his yard when they believe something leaning on the fence where Kraus was mowing fell and hit him in the back of the head. Kevin Bilbrey said although Kraus was knocked hard in the head, the quick thinker alerted his family to what was going on.

"He was able to stop the lawnmower, turn it off and holler at his older son that something happened and then he passed out," Bilbrey said.

He said they're fortunate he was able to shut it off before it hurt anybody else. Bilbrey is on the volunteer fire department with Kraus and decided to hold the vigil because he knows his friend and his family need it right now.

"We need to lift up his family in prayer and let them know that we're thinking of them," Bilbrey said. "Pray that God will heal him and get them back home and in one piece again."

Dylan Earnhart is good friends with Kraus and said it's hard to see something like this happen to someone he sees as a brother.

"If I was in his shoes, he'd be out here for me and you know it's important that the community shows him support," Earnhart said.

They did just that at the vigil and raised $400 to help the family out while he's in the hospital.

Bilbrey said when they deiced to host this, Kraus was having trouble gaining consciousness and his vision.

"They were able to get him up, take a few steps, he could eat, he could talk, he recognizes people, but he still gets confused about what's going on, but a good improvement to where he was before," Bilbrey said.

A fundraiser is also being held to raise money for the family. It's happening on May 17 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Honk and Holler on Fuller road. They'll be selling food for $6 dollars a plate and offering three different meal choices. The owner said people are welcome to call in their order and all the money will go to the family.

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