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Thread: Firefighter Killed When Fire Truck Overturns Near McLeansville, North Carolina

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    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Firefighter Killed When Fire Truck Overturns Near McLeansville, North Carolina

    A firefighter from the McLeansville Fire Department was killed Monday when she lost control of the pumper truck she was driving on a non-emergency assignment.

    It was the Guilford County rural fire fighting force's first loss in more than 30 years.

    Cassandra Powell, who had joined the mostly-volunteer McLeansville department as a paid firefighter only five weeks before but had spent a number of years driving for other Guilford departments, was pronounced dead at the scene on Freiden Church Road about 11:07 a.m.

    She left McLeansville's headquarters station after picking up equipment and was returning alone to McLeansville Station No. 27 on High Rock Road, where she is assigned as a driver.

    Trooper Royce Barham said the truck left the road on the right, came back onto to the pavement and then swung out of control on opposite side of the road. The truck, fully loaded with water, hit a ditch and overturned.

    The top of the truck was crushed from front to back. Rescue workers had to cut open the truck to remove Powell's body.

    County Fire Marshal Charlie Porter said the last time the county fire fighting force lost a firefighter was before he came to the county 33 years ago.

    "She had a good record," Porter said. "It's just what happens. Why it happened we may never know. Did you take her eye off the road momentarily? Did she drop something?"

    Emotions were apparent at the accident. Her husband, Joe Powell, a firefighter at Station 13 with the Northeast Guilford Fire Department, was brought to the scene briefly. Another firefighter from Station 13, Jimmy Marley, removed a black firefighter's helmet from the scene and placed it in his car.

    "She was a very experienced driver," Marley said. "She was one of the best.

    He and others estimated that Powell was in her early 30s. They said she has children from a previous marriage. She had worked at the Colfax Fire Department before switching to McLeansville five weeks ago. She had also worked for the Summerfield Fire Department.

    On her days off, she served as a volunteer at her husband's station, which is located across from Brightwood School.



    [SIZE=1]Firefighters and their families gathered at Station 7 in McLeansville to comfort one other a few hours after the wreck. (August L. Meyland III/

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Powell, Cassandra Billings

    Age: 32
    Rank: Firefighter
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 09/23/2002
    Incident Time: 11:07
    Death Date: 09/23/2002

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: No
    Duty Type: Other
    Activity Type: Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus
    Fixed Prop. Use: Street/Road

    Fire Dept. Info:
    McLeansville Fire Department, Inc.
    P.O. Box 166
    McLeansville, North Carolina 27301
    Chief: Donny Shepard

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Powell was involved in routine duties, enroute between stations when the vehicle she was driving ran off the right side of the road. As the vehicle was steered back onto the road it overturned, pinning the victim in the cab. The accident resulted in severe trauma to the head and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Wake: Visitation from 7pm-9pm Wednesday 24th, at Fair

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    North Carolina Firefighter Killed When Fire Truck Overturns

    North Carolina Firefighter Killed When Fire Truck Overturns
    Husband: 'She Died Doing what She Loved'

    By JIM SCHLOSSER
    The News & Record

    MCLEANSVILLE, N.C. -- If she had to die on the job, Cassandra Powell would probably have preferred to be in a burning building, trying to save lies.

    Still, her husband Joe Powell told fellow firefighter Stephen Mims that he takes comfort knowing that his wife died Monday in uniform on a firetruck.

    "She died doing what she loved," Mims said. "He understands that because he loves the same thing."

    Cassandra Powell was alone Monday morning driving a McLeansville Fire Department tanker back to the station after a routine maintenance check. At the bottom of a hill, just after 11 a.m., she lost control of the truck, which hit a ditch and flipped.

    Powell, a 32-year-old mother of two, was pronounced dead in the crushed cab of the 1975 Ford tanker, which was loaded with 1,250 gallons of water.

    Charles Porter, director of the Guilford County Emergency Medical Services, which includes the rural fire departments, said Powell is the first firefighter to die in an on-duty accident since he joined the county 33 years ago. He said he thinks she is the first women firefighter killed in the history of the Guilford, Greensboro and High Point fire departments.

    "She had a good record," Porter said. "It's just what happens. Why it happened we may never know. Did you take her eye off the road momentarily? Did she drop something?"

    Powell joined the McLeansville department five weeks ago but had worked for other Guilford County departments and was the first female firefighter in Eden.

    Monday morning, she left McLeansville's main station on Frieden Church after having a pump valve checked on Tanker Truck No. 274. She was driving east on Frieden Church to station No. 27 on High Rock Road. It's one of three stations in the McLeansville fire district.

    At the bottom of a hill past the intersection of Bittle and Frieden Church roads, Trooper Royce Barham of the Highway Patrol said witnesses told him the truck left the two-lane rural road on the right, returned to the pavement and then went off the opposite side.

    Black tread marks on the pavement indicated Powell struggled to stop the truck before it slammed into a ditch. Barham said the shifting of water in the tank may have caused the truck to flip.

    The repair work done at the station earlier would not have caused the truck to go out of control, said Alan Perdue, deputy EMS director.

    Mims, who is pastor of Peace United Lutheran Church and a volunteer with the McLeansville department, was the second to arrive at the wreck site.

    He said he had no idea a firetruck was involved until he saw the vehicle. He knew one of two department members had to have been driving. When he saw a small, booted foot in the cab, he realized it was Cassandra Powell. She was a small women, a little over 5 feet tall, he said.

    He said he had only recently met Powell but had high respect for her ability as a driver.

    "I went on a call with her, and she knew what she was doing," Mims said. "This was not an inexperienced driver."

    Powell lived in Eden, where she still worked part time for the Eden Fire Department. In Guilford County, she had worked for the Summerfield and Colfax fire departments as a driver before joining McLeansville as a a paid member. Many rural Guilford fire departments consist of a few paid members among the volunteer force.

    On her days off, Powell served as a volunteer firefighter for nearby Fire District 13 in northeast Guilford County, where her husband, Joe Powell, is a paid captain. The two were married a few months ago.

    Cassandra Powell had two children, a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, from a previous marriage.

    Mims, who also serves as the department's chaplain, spent Monday afternoon with Joe Powell.

    Emotions were obvious at the wreck scene. Firefighter Jimmy Marley of Fire District 13 carried a black helmet from the wreck back to his car. He was near tears and urged reporters not to conclude that inexperience had been a factor.

    "She was a very experienced driver. She was one of the best," he said.

    At Station No. 7, a woman hugged a grieving firefighter in front of the station, which was cordoned off with emergency yellow tape. The wrecked fire engine was towed behind the station and covered with a tarpaulin. Firefighters and helpers unloaded two pickups filled with hoses and other equipment removed from the wreck scene.

    Department leaders began summoning firefighters to a meeting to discuss the accident. Powell was one of four women in the department.

    Powell's death comes less than two weeks after Guilford County EMS dedicated a memorial to honor county firefighters, sheriff's deputies and emergency medical service workers. Part of the memorial contains steel from Tower One at the World Trade Center, a gift from D.H. Griffin Demolition Co., which cleared the New York site.

    The memorial contains no names, but Charles Porter said that may change because of the tragedy in McLeansville.

    County firefighters have been asked to wear their black mourning bands. Flags will be at half-staff at fire stations throughout the county.

    News-Record Staff Writers Tim Yeadon and Amy Wolfford contributed to this report.

    Viewing/Funeral Information

    Visitation will take place on Wednesday, September 25 between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Fair's Funeral Home on Boone Road in Eden, NC.

    Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, Septmeber 26 at 2 p.m. at Osborne Baptist Church on Stadium Drive in Eden.



    http://www.firehouse.com/lodd/2002/nc_sep23a.html

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