Botetourt County and regional first responders are mourning the death of an Eagle Rock volunteer firefighter who was fatally struck Friday by an emergency vehicle at an accident scene.
Roger D. Johns, 63, of Eagle Rock was serving as a ground guide at an auto wreck on U.S. 220 at Catawba Creek Road when he was injured at around 3 p.m.
A 55-year-old department employee, who was not identified, was backing up an emergency vehicle to block the roadway and struck Johns, state police said.
Johns died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The driver of the department vehicle was not injured.
“Botetourt County Fire & EMS is mourning one of its own,” the department said in a statement released Saturday. “In a community where neighbors help neighbors and everyone knows everybody, this accident makes a tragedy very personal for our volunteer and professional firefighters.
“Our focus at this time is on the well-being of the firefighter’s family and our dedicated team of volunteer and professional firefighters.”
Counseling services are available, the county said.
“This accident reminds us once again that with any call, our firefighters risk their lives in service to our community,” the department said.
Funeral arrangements will be announced when finalized.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his fellow volunteers who play a critical role in serving our community,” County Administrator Gary Larrowe said in a statement. “Our primary focus at this time is on the well-being of his family and our close-knit team of volunteer and professional firefighters.”
Other fire and rescue agencies across Western Virginia expressed condolences on social media Saturday for the department.
Last year, another veteran Eagle Rock first responder was seriously injured while helping people evacuate from their homes in Alleghany County because of flooding.
Alan Wright, an assistant chief of Eagle Rock Volunteer Fire and Rescue, was pulled under water June 23. When colleagues rescued him, he was in cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. He has been recovering since the incident.
The department’s new chief starts Monday. Matthew Britt is coming to Botetourt County after 10 years of his emergency services career in North Carolina.
Britt was hired after a nearly yearlong search to replace Jeff Beckner, who was found June 3 lying in a creek near his Troutville home.
Authorities have said he apparently drowned while removing debris from the creek.
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