Early in their relationship, Janet Haudenschild recalled hearing about her husband's desire to volunteer at the Washington Township Fire Department.
He had always expressed a need to help others, even if it meant risking his own life, she said.
"There was a big fear in me that this would happen, but I still felt I could not stop him from doing something he really wanted," she said.
Surrounded by her firefighting family at the fire station Wednesday, Janet spoke about the life of Mark Haudenschild II, a man she described as "compassionate, caring and loving of everyone."
Behind her, newly printed on the side of a Washington Township fire truck, were blue letters that read "In Memory of 686 Mark Haudenschild II."
Haudenschild, 26, died Sunday night after losing control of a tanker truck and crashing on his way to a brush fire.
About 8:40 p.m., he was on Hillegas Road when he tried to make a right turn to go west on Butler Road. The truck rolled several times and hit three utility poles.
It came to rest on its side, just off Hillegas, about 100 yards south of the intersection in northwest Fort Wayne.
He died at the scene from blunt-force injuries received in the accident, the Allen County Coroner's Office said.
Mark and Janet were married in August 2007. They had two children – a 1-year-old daughter, Kyra, and a 3-year-old son, Mark Haudenschild III.
"Our son was his buddy. Our little girl he adored with all his heart," Janet said. "He was a very good man to everybody, especially us."
Janet described the challenges she has faced in recent days staying strong for her children.
"My son, he seems lost, like he's looking for him, … and I feel like my daughter is the same. She has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at times," she said. "I think they're both feeling that something is going on."
Janet said she has already begun putting together letters, photos and memorabilia to share with her children when they are older.
"I want them to see firsthand what happened, rather than just hearing about their father," she said.
Mark was a tech with Comcast for six years and served as an assistant chief engineer with the fire department for five years.
Chief Brian Gillett said Monday that Haudenschild, the only firefighter in the truck, was ejected and pinned beneath the wreckage.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but authorities have cited the momentum and weight of the truck as possible factors.
Gillett said the truck had a 3,500-gallon tank with dividers to keep the load balanced and help prevent water from throwing the truck off-balance.
Haudenschild's death in the line of duty was the first in the department's 67-year history, Gillett said.
As she spoke Wednesday, Janet repeatedly thanked her firefighting family for their ongoing support and love. She said her husband was a very brave man, just like his fellow firefighters.
"That's what they do. They all have the courage to do this, and they all deserve a lot of credit for it," she said. "They risk their lives every day for us."
Memorial fund•A memorial fund for the Haudenschild family has been set up at Three Rivers Federal Credit Union. Donations can be made at any branch.