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Widow of Milton man warns of “wood fracking” dangers

Matt Schmidt was killed while working in his garage in May
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 11:46 AM CDT
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MILTON, Wis. (WMTV) -A woman in Rock County is grieving the sudden loss of her husband after he was electrocuted while working in his garage.

Matt Schmidt was a father of three who was killed at his home in Milton on May 14. He was working on a project known as fractal wood burning or wood fracking. It’s a craft that uses high voltage electricity to burn intricate patterns into pieces of wood to create art.

“We are just trying to learn how to function without him, you know? It’s hard. It’s really hard,” said Matt’s widow Caitlin Schmidt. “We are just taking it literally day-by-day. Sometimes its just minute-to-minute.”

Matt Schmidt was a father of three who was killed at his home in Milton on May 14.
Matt Schmidt was a father of three who was killed at his home in Milton on May 14.(Caitlin Schmidt)

Caitlin says she was out of town for work and when she didn’t hear from Matt after a while, she started to worry. Eventually, their oldest son found Matt dead in the garage. Now she’s making sure the same thing doesn’t happen to other families. Her message is simple: DON’T try this at home.

“This pain is pretty unbearable. So, if I can keep one family from going through this then it makes my husband’s loss not meaningless,” said Caitlin.

Caitlin says they didn’t know the risks involved with wood fracking.

“The risk is not worth the reward. If we had any idea that this could have happened, Matt would have never done it,” said Caitlin. “These machines, one, they are homemade and two, we had no idea how dangerous it was or that it could even potentially kill him,”

Since her husband’s death, Caitlin has heard from other widows who are experiencing the same devastating loss.

“We are not alone. There have been other people who have passed form this. I’ve had two women from Wisconsin reach out to me who are my age with small kids who are going through the exact same thing and lost their husbands in the exact same way,” she said.

Now, their three children are struggling to come to terms with their father’s death.

“My youngest (5-years-old) is the hardest to understand the depth of this loss and the finality of it all,” said Caitlin. “It’s just a really, really big loss for each of them,”

Caitlin says if she could speak to her husband one last time, she knows exactly what she would say.

“He is the most loved and missed person. But also, it’s not for nothing. That we can save other people’s lives and save other families from going through this,”

Matt Schmidt was 35-years-old. A celebration of Matt’s life will take place on July 18th.

A memorial fund has also been set up for his family. If you would like to donate, just ask for The Schmidt Family Memorial Fund at The Bank of Milton.

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