Fire Chief Jim Pelton was killed in an auto accident on Friday, August 10 while on duty with the Mason City, Michigan fire department.

Pelton, 58, was driving to a fire department in Meridian to evaluate equipment there, said Mason City Administrator Martin Colburn.

But the chief never got there. At the intersection of Okemos and Sandhill Road, a driver ran a stop sign and hit an SUV. The SUV went airborne and landed on Pelton's pickup truck, killing him instantly.

There were no drugs, alcohol or speeding involved in the accident, Colburn said.

Pelton served the Mason City fire department for 37 years. He joined as a firefighter in 1964 and became chief in 1992.

Some of his most significant accomplishments were the implementation of a variety of training programs including ice rescue, hazardous materials training, and vehicle extrication training. He also initiated the building of a new fire station in 1998.

"Chief Pelton, through his leadership abilities, led our department into the new millennium," said Capt. Kerry Minshall in a prepared statement. "He was instrumental in securing new equipment and encouraging fire prevention and safety throughout the entire community."

"He was just a heck of a guy," Colburn said. "He's really going to be missed. And he was truly a good family man."

Pelton is survived by his wife, two adult children and two grandchildren. He was also very interested in hunting, fishing and trapping, and just finished building a log home.

"He was quite a man," Colburn said.

In addition to his full time job with the 32-member fire department, Pelton also worked as a barber. He owned and operated the Golden Shear Hair Salon until his barbering retirement in 2001.