Justin Townsend is shown in these photos provided to WBOC by the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department.
DAGSBORO, Del.- The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department in Sussex County is mourning its first line-of-duty death.
Justin Townsend, 17, of Dagsboro, died in a crash Thursday afternoon while en route to the fire station for a call, according to Delaware State Police.
Jacob Townsend, a friend of Justin Townsend says, "He was very dependable. If you asked him anything while we were here he would help you. If you had a question about something he would help you or he would answer it for you."
Gunner Kollock says he will remember Townsend as, "somebody that loved to hunt, loved to fish, loved this fire company and as a brother. It was a brotherhood here at the fire company and he won't be forgotten."
Troopers said Townsend was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by John Morton Jr., 18, of Dagsboro. Morton was transporting Townsend, a volunteer junior firefighter, to the fire station for a brush fire alarm just after 5 p.m., police said.
Due to excessive speed, Morton lost control of the truck at a curve on Pepper Road near Selbyville, spun off the road, struck a telephone pole and then overturned, troopers said. Both were properly restrained.
Townsend died at the scene; Morton was transported to Beebe Medical Center in Lewes where he was treated and released, police said. Troopers continue to investigate the crash.
Townsend, who was a junior at Sussex Tech High School, had been a member of the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department for one year and was due to be voted into the senior membership next month, said department spokesman Matthew Gajdos at a Friday afternoon press conference.
Townsend's death marks the first loss in the line-of-duty in the Dagsboro Fire Department's 69-year history, Gajdos also noted.
"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," Gajdos said. "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."
Gajdos said funeral arrangements are still pending, but added that Townsend will be laid to rest with full firefighter honors. The Townsend family requests donations in lieu of flowers to the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department in memory of Justin Townsend.
The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department is currently out of service as firefighters mourn the loss; neighboring fire departments will respond to calls with members who are on standby at the Dagsboro fire station.
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