Arkansas Firefighter Dies in Fall

The volunteer was operating at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on the I-30 bridge over the Saline River.


A volunteer firefighter from Arkansas was killed Friday morning from injuries sustained in a fall from a bridge.

Lt. Paul D. Baker, 39, of Turtle Creek Volunteer Fire Department, lost his footing while involved in an extrication of a patient from a single-vehicle crash on the I-30 bridge over the Saline River.

Baker fell about 40 feet, landing on the river bank.

Some rescue personnel from Benton and Turtle Creek ran to assist him, while others remained with the seriously injured, trapped patient, said Benton Fire Chief Ben Blankenship.

However, Baker was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy is being conducted.

"He was very competent, a good firefighter," Blankenship said. "This is so tragic. He has a wife and three children.

Baker's wife also is a volunteer, but she was not on the call Friday morning..

The Turtle Creek company has 26 volunteers, and operates three stations. Blankenship said they are respected and a very professional department.

"Right now, our department and two other volunteer fire companies are handling their calls until they feel ready," the chief said.

"He was very committed. The community has lost a very special person."

Funeral Information

Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug.14 at Ashby's Funeral Home in Benton.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. He will receive full fire department honors. Interment will be in Mt. Harmony Cemetery, Haskell.

Pallbearers Gerald Hinds, Ricky Higgins, Daniel Blair, Timmy Dempsey, Terry Hayes and Andy Nelson. The Turtle Creek firefighters will serve as honorary bearers.

After the services, the family, friends and firefighters will have a reception at the Turtle Creek Fire Department Central Station. Memorials may be made to the Baker Family at Regions Bank 146 W. South St. Benton 72015.