GRINNELL, Iowa -- Working his dream job for over 30 years, Grinnell knew they could count of Dwayne Kriegel to deliver the mail rain or shine.
"His patrons loved him. They set bottles of water out for him in the heat and hot cocoa for him in the winter months," said his wife, Tammy.
Last Thursday while on his mail route, Dwayne was stung by wasps while reaching into a mailbox. Tammy said, "He was stung multiple times in his right hand and we don’t believe he could get his EpiPen open. They found it lying right beside him."
Having developed an allergy to wasps just two years ago, Dwayne went into anaphylactic shock and suffered a heart attack but not before calling his wife with his left hand. "I looked everywhere. I called 911. The police came and the fire department and city workers. They did chest compressions and shocked him back to life."
They life-flighted him to Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, but he died Tuesday morning. "He was without oxygen for 14 minutes, and when that occurs your brain swells. It was irreversible damage where he was never going to wake up,” said Tammy.
Dwayne’s legacy will not only live on in memory, but also in giving new life as an organ donor. "The kind of man, kind, humble man who Dwayne was, he would have wanted to help other people and he went peacefully,” Tammy said. She is now urging others to be careful. "I need everybody to practice caution in their mailboxes, with their children around their plants. You don’t know."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says from 2000-2017, an average of 62 Americans per year died from bee, wasp or hornet stings. Eighty percent of those deaths were men. "I just can’t imagine any family having to go through what my family just went through today. Grinnell lost a great man," said Tammy.
A celebration of life is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Grinnell Christian Church. Dwayne's burial will be at Westfield Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Eagles Lodge in Grinnell. The Iowa Donor Network will provide 500 bracelets to raise awareness for organ donation. The family encourages anyone to become a donor.