N.C. firefighter killed in apparatus crash

The truck was on its way to a call; another firefighter was injured and taken to the hospital

The News & Observer

LOUISBURG, N.C. — One firefighter was killed and another injured when their truck crashed southeast of Louisburg on Tuesday, according to Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones.

The single-vehicle wreck happened on the 1300 block of Sykes Road, just east of Lake Royale, at roughly 5 p.m. The truck was on its way to a call, though Jones wasn’t sure of the nature of the emergency, he said.

Firefighter John Derek Gupton, 24, lost control of the 2,500 gallon tanker he was operating when the apparatus left the roadway to the right, hit a ditch culvert and overturned, the U.S. Fire Administration reported. Firefighter Gupton died from injuries sustained in the accident. 

The firefighters were members of Justice Rural Volunteer Fire Department on nearby N.C. 581, Jones said.

"We're dependent, very dependent upon these guys," Franklin County Fire Marshal Jeff Lewis said. "It's like you lost your brother even though we don't know everybody by name. We know them by department, and everybody is involved. Everybody is one big emergency services group." 

The injured firefighter was transported to WakeMed in Raleigh, he said.

"It affects us all," Jones said. "You can say you're tough as nails, but this is going to affect everybody."

Jones said troopers do not believe speed was a factor in the crash. The State Highway Patrol is investigating.

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