Pennsylvania Firefighter Loved All Aspects Of Job, His Brother Says

RACCOON TWP. - David Vinisky grew up around firetrucks and firefighters. Approaching 50, Vinisky appeared to be as in love with them as ever.

In fact, Vinisky was taking photographs of the shiny, month-old firetruck he helped the Raccoon Township Volunteer Fire Department purchase when he was killed, according to township police and the fire department.

Vinisky, a 49-year-old Raccoon native and third-generation township firefighter, was killed and another firefighter was injured Wednesday evening when the firetruck backed over them in front of the department's Patterson Road station.

Raccoon police Sgt. Michael Anderson said Vinisky and fellow township firefighter Jim Davidson, 52, had been photographing the department's new firetruck moments before the accident. The digital photos were to be posted on the department's online site.

Anderson said while Vinisky and Davidson were standing behind the truck, township firefighter Frank Brocklebank, 40, climbed into the driver's seat of the truck, checked both side mirrors and, seeing no one behind him, started to back the truck into the station's bay garage.

Anderson said the truck emitted a beeping sound as it began to roll in reverse.

Within moments, however, the beeping noise was replaced with screaming.

Anderson said Brocklebank quickly brought the truck to a halt when he heard Davidson screaming. Vinisky was pinned underneath the truck, Anderson said.

Vinisky was pronounced dead a short time later by Beaver County Deputy Coroner Wayne Tatalovich Jr. Tatalovich said Vinisky died from head injuries.

Davidson was treated and released from Aliquippa Community Hospital after suffering cuts and bruises. Brocklebank also went to the hospital to submit to a blood test for alcohol and drugs - Anderson said there were no traces of either in his system.

Anderson said police are still investigating the accident.

Vinisky was a lifelong resident of Raccoon Township. To some, it also seemed like he was a lifelong township firefighter.

Fire Chief Bert Failor said Vinisky, whose father and grandfather were charter members of the department, began spending time at the fire station before he was old enough to walk.

Vinisky's brother, Drew, a former Raccoon firefighter, said, "We practically grew up at the station."

Vinisky formally became a Raccoon firefighter in July 1973, soon after he turned 18. In his 30-plus years with the department, Vinisky served in numerous roles, including as assistant chief and vice president while working as a shop mechanic at the former Zinc Corp. of America in Potter Township.

"My brother loved what he was doing, and he was a good firefighter. In recent years, he was often the one who drove the truck to fires," Drew Vinisky said.

"When he was in control of the pumper (truck), you knew you were in good hands. You could take comfort in that," Failor added.

"He was a good friend, a good neighbor and a very dependable fireman."

Visitation for Vinisky will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Darroch Memorial Chapel, 2640 Mill St., Aliquippa. A memorial service will follow.

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