A North Tonawanda soldier stationed in Saudi Arabia was killed Saturday, just two days after his 27th birthday, when a tractor-trailer he was driving overturned on a curve, the Army and his father said Sunday night.
Pfc. Scott N. Vigrass, who only recently learned that his wife, Lisa, is pregnant with their first child, had been in Saudi Arabia since Aug. 21, said his father, James A. Vigrass of the City of Tonawanda.
Mrs. Vigrass stayed at Fort Stewart, Ga., where her husband was stationed until he was sent to the Persian Gulf with B Company, 724th Main Support Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division.
James Vigrass said he learned of his son's death about 4 p.m. Sunday when a chaplain and another Army representative came to his home. Vigrass said he was told his son was thrown from the cab of the tractor when it turned over.
An Army spokeswoman in Washington said the victim was participating in a routine water resupply mission and was pinned inside the cab when it turned over. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the cause of the accident still was under investigation Sunday, she said.
Vigrass, a 1980 graduate of North Tonawanda High School, and Lisa M. Brokaw were married June 17, 1989, in Clarence Center, and the next month he joined the Army. His father said he signed up for six years so he could take advantage of college education benefits.
"He wanted to get the education," his father said. "He went to Geneseo (State) College for criminal justice and then he joined the service. He was going to college in the service. He was going to try to get in criminal justice up here, maybe with the police."
He added: "My feelings were it's a great opportunity for a person to get education and training. I am proud of him for joining and doing what he did do, but you don't think anything like this is going to happen. We expected to see him probably in March."
He explained that since his son was one of the first soldiers sent to the Persian Gulf, he could expect to be back in the United States at the end of February -- unless war broke out.
Vigrass said his oldest son, James -- Scott was second oldest -- sent a birthday card and a package containing cigars to Saudi Arabia to help his brother celebrate.
"He told him to light a cigar on his birthday and Jimmy would do the same and he'd think of Scott," the father said.
In fact, the father and all four brothers observed the birthday by smoking cigars Thursday.
"Instead of being together and having a drink together, it was a little something," Vigrass said, acknowledging it made them feel they were close to him even though he was thousands of miles away.
Vigrass said he plans to contact the American Red Cross for assistance so that he or one of his sons can go to Saudi Arabia to accompany Scott's body back to Western New York. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Sunday.
In addition to his father and older brother, he is survived by his mother, Wanda Vigrass of North Tonawanda; three other brothers, Samuel of Kenmore and Joseph and David, both of North Tonawanda, and a sister, Margie of North Tonawanda.