Injured Leechburg police chief, fiancee marry on Kiski River bank
Less than three weeks ago, Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold was asked what his final wishes would be.
He had lost part of his left arm in a fireworks accident at the Leechburg fire company’s annual carnival.
“I decided I was going to get married to Danielle, and I was going to see my son,” he said.
Diebold, 39, went home from the hospital a week ago Wednesday. Last night, he made good on the first part and married Danielle Reinke on the bank of the Kiski River.
“Better late than never,” he said.
Mayor Shawn Lerch officiated at the ceremony behind the fire department garage, right after recognizing those who played parts in saving Diebold’s life the night of June 24.
The couple originally planned to get married by a pond at Diebold’s Gilpin home on July 4. It was going to be a surprise for their family and friends.
It didn’t happen. Diebold was still at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Reinke, 36, now Mrs. Diebold, said she couldn’t think of any place better to get married, or for any better audience than the community that has supported them with their prayers and love.
“If it weren’t for them, this moment wouldn’t have been possible,” she said after the brief ceremony. “We had to do this here.”
Lerch said those he was honoring might not like being called heroes, but, “They earned it. They get that title for life.”
Chris Primozic, of Apollo, didn’t know Mike Diebold. He was just there with family for the fireworks when he heard an explosion and a cry for help.
He took off his belt, which was used as part of a makeshift tourniquet on Mike Diebold’s arm. Lerch gave him a new one Wednesday.
Inside the belt was a message from Mike Diebold, “Thank you for a second chance at life.”
“I didn’t want all this,” Primozic said. “I would’ve done it for anybody.”
Also honored were John Fiorina, of Leechburg, a registered nurse who applied the tourniquet, and Carl Bayne, of Allegheny Township, who took off his shirt for it. Lerch replaced Bayne’s shirt with one of the fundraising T-shirts being sold to help Mike Diebold.
“It’s beautiful to see him,” Bayne said of Mike Diebold, as his wedding ceremony was starting. “This is what it’s about.”
As Lerch recognized them and others who played parts big and small in giving Mike Diebold a shot at survival, Danielle stood in the wings in her wedding gown, holding a bouquet of flowers.
Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi described Mike Diebold as a wonderful partner and an incredible father who is “going to make a great husband.”
“Mike, you are the luckiest man in the world,” he said. “Not just because you’re standing here, but because she’s standing there.”
Danielle Diebold said she and Mike have known each other all their lives. They went to high school together. They’ve been engaged since last August.
They had planned a honeymoon to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in August. She said they’ll have to make sure the doctors allow it before keeping those plans.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said. “Having his last name is going to be an honor.”
Mike Diebold said when he saw Danielle coming down the aisle toward him, he couldn’t believe she was marrying him.
“This is like the end to a story and the beginning of another,” he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.