Boat Collision Kills Alabama Firefighter

Firehouse.Com News

A boat collision on Fish River in Alabama has claimed the life of a volunteer firefighter and left two others injured.

Chelsea Garvin, 19, a member of Fish River Marlow Vol. Fire Dept., died at 3 p.m. Thursday of injuries sustained in the collision.

The volunteers were returning from the annual Christmas boat parade which they were monitoring in a department water craft, when their craft hit another vessel head-on. Upon impact, Garvin, Firefighter Dennis Sadler and one of the occupants of the other boat were thrown overboard, said Capt. Bob Woodward.

Witnesses to the collision that occurred about 9 p.m. on a sharp bend launched their boat and pulled the injured peopl from the water. Garvin was in cardiac arrest.

Firefighter Jason Heromamie, who remained in the boat, remains hospitalized with internal injuries. Sadler has been released. The two occupants of the civilian boat also were treated for injuries.

Woodward said a black wreath has been hung on the door of the fire station, and flag is at half-staff. Garvin is the first person in the department to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

"They stopped for chili at the chief's house along the river after the parade. They were headed back to the boat ramp when the collision happened," Woodward said. "It's a dark spot on that bend."

Fellow volunteers heard the dispatch about the collision, and wondered. Then, Heromamie called on the radio. "He said they were involved and needed help."

Garvin, who graduated from high school with honors last year, was a dedicated member who made a mark in a short time. "Chelsea was not only an asset to the department, but to everyone who knew her," Woodward said. "I wish we had 10 more just like her."

She finished her EMT class last week. "This was a real tragic thing..."

A memorial is planned at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Fairhope, Ala.