Justin Townsend, the first Dagsboro volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty, will be laid to rest next weekend following a pair of public viewings.
Funeral arrangements were announced Friday for the 17-year-old Sussex Technical High School junior who was killed in a single-car crash near Selbyville this week.
The first viewing for Townsend will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department at 31818 Waples St.
A second viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Indian River High School auditorium at 29772 Armory Road in Dagsboro.
Following Saturday’s viewing, a procession will lead from the high school to Redman’s Cemetary on Iron Branch Road in Dagsboro where a full fire fighters funeral will be held.
A reception will follow at the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department.
The public is welcome to attend both viewing and the funeral, according to fire department spokesman Matt Gajdos.
In lieu of flowers, the Townsend family has requested that donations be made to the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department.
Townsend died Thursday while responding to a fire call.
According to police, he was the passenger in a pick-up truck that crashed into a telephone pole and overturned on Pepper Road, north of Selbyville, about 5:18 p.m.
Townsend was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the driver, 18-year-old Dagsboro resident John Morton Jr., was taken to Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.
The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department has been out of service since Thursday while its members, including Townsend’s father, mourn the loss of the junior firefighter. Neighboring fire departments have been responding to emergency calls in their place.
The fire department released the following statement about Townsend’s death on Friday:
“Words cannot begin to adequately portray the tremendous sorrow this small, tight-knit fire company and the community it serves is feeling in the wake of this loss. The brave men and women who serve in this department have lost one of their brothers. While losing a member is something every fire department hopes never happens, the reality is that it can happen – and it has happened right here in tiny Dagsboro, Del. Our fire company now joins a select group of departments that has lost a member in service to his community, and we now must work through the grieving process as we honor a life cut too short.
Justin had been a member of our department for one year. He was due to be voted into the senior membership next month. Justin completed all of his state training to be an interior firefighter and was a very active member with our department.
Page 2 of 2 - Justin was a junior at Sussex Tech High School. He was involved with auto mechanic courses and many of our members worked with him to get small repairs done. Justin was always willing to learn and would do anything asked of him. He was a fast learner and asked for help when needed. He always had the biggest smile when he got on the truck. He liked to help people. He was a very good guy with so much to offer, and I know it was that desire to help people that led Justin to the fire service. He may not have been the best at a particular skill; but he poured his heart into everything he did. We miss him very much, and we will remember him always.
While we have lost Justin, his passion to help others has not been lost with his passing. Justin was an organ donor. Even in the shadow of death, he will continue to live on by serving others.
Many local fire departments are family based; not just in name, but in brotherhood and sisterhood. Our department is no different. Justin’s father is a member of this department. Justin and his father are part of our family dynamic. We will support him and grieve with him in this time of need.
The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department would like to thank all of our neighboring agencies across Sussex County and throughout the Delmarva region. We appreciate this extended family and their efforts to help us get back on our feet. While we are down at the moment, we will recover from this, we will move on, and we will remember.”