A 17-year-old Dagsboro firefighter was killed in car crash Thursday while responding to fire call.
Justin E. Townsend was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred on Pepper Road north of Selbyville about 5:18 p.m., according to Delaware State Police.
Townsend was the passenger in a 1986 Ford pickup truck driven by 18-year-old Dagsboro resident John Morton Jr., who was treated at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes for non-life-threatening injuries following the crash.
State police and Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department officials said Morton was driving Townsend to Station 73 on Waples Street in Dagsboro so he could assist with a brush fire call.
Police said Morton lost control of the pickup while speeding north through a curve on Pepper Road, just north of Jay Patch Road.
The right tires of the truck exited the right side of the roadway, causing the vehicle to spin counter-clockwise before it slide sideways off the west edge of the roadway where it struck a telephone pole before overturning, crushing the passenger side of the cabin roof, police said.
State police were continuing their investigation of the crash as of late Thursday evening.
Pepper Road near Jay Patch Road was closed for nearly five hours while police investigated the crash and cleared the scene.
Townsend is the first Dagsboro volunteer firefighter to be killed in the line of duty in the department's 69-year history.
Members of the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department were scheduled to speak at a 1 p.m. press conference today.
Department spokesman Matt Gajdos said Townsend had been a volunteer firefighter for a year.
"Justin truly was an excellent kid," he said. "He was always trying to help other people and always want to learn. He poured his heart into everything he did."
Townsend's father also is a member of the department, he said.
"We're all a very close family here," Gajdos said. "This is devastating to all of us, and our members are in various stages of grief."
The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department will remain out of service at least through the weekend to allow members to mourn Townsend's loss, he said.
"If you call 911, you will still get a response from one of our neighboring fire stations," Gajdos said. "There will be no lapse in coverage.'