Rocky Mount (VA) Chief Posey Dillon, who is also the town’s vice-mayor, and Firefighter Willam D.Altice, known as Danny, were killed this afternoon when their fire engine overturned on the way to a reported structure fire. Dillon, who had been chief for two decades, was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police say he was driving the rig. Altice was dead at the scene. Here are excerpts from news coverage.
The fire engine, with its emergency lights and siren on, was heading to a report of a person trapped in a house fire in the Franklin County community of Union Hall, with just Dillon and Altice aboard. With Dillon at the wheel, the engine, eastbound on Old Franklin Turnpike, swerved when a silver Ford Escape drove into the street from School Board Road, said Sgt. Rob Carpentieri, a state police spokesman.
The truck, loaded with 1,000 gallons of water, was struck on the driver’s side by the SUV, flipped from the shifting weight of the water and landed on a Ford Mustang convertible on its third roll, said state police Sgt. Michael Bailey. The Mustang driver, Carolyn Puckett, 47, of Bassett didn’t appear hurt, police said.
“The fire truck driver overcorrected and it appears the weight of the load shifted,” Carpentieri said.
Other fire companies subdued the blaze and found the person safely away from the fire, Bailey said.
Rocky Mount’s truck, a 1989 Pierce engine with a 1,000-gallon water tank, can be “top-heavy” in emergency maneuvers, Russell said. Its tank contains baffles to keep the sloshing water from throwing the fire engine off balance, he said.
Dillon was driving the fire truck, which was on its way to a house fire in the Penhook area of Franklin County. Altice was riding in the passenger seat. They were the only people in the truck. Neither Dillon nor Alitce was wearing a seat belt.
The driver of the SUV, Terry Valentine, was taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital with injuries described as non life-treatening.
The driver of the Ford Mustang, Carolyn Puckett, was not hurt in the crash.
Dillon had served on town council for 24 years, including 10 years as vice mayor, and was re-elected vice mayor by council earlier this month. He had been fire chief for 20 years.
Altice joined the fire department in 1963 and served as chief from 1977 to 1984. He was presented a lifetime achievement award by town council in 2008.