Delaware Junior Firefighter Killed Responding to Call

Justin E. Townsend, 17, was a passenger in a pick-up truck that crashed while en route to a woods fire.


A 17-year-old junior firefighter with the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department was killed in a motor vehicle crash Thursday evening as he was responding to a reported woods fire.

Justin E. Townsend was pronounced dead at the scene, according to The News Journal.

The driver of the truck, John Morton Jr., 18, of Dagsboro, is being treated at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, the paper reported.

Both teens were wearing seat belts, state police said.

“Due to excessive speed, Morton was unable to control the pick-up truck in the curve causing the right side tires to exit onto the grassy shoulder. The truck then began to spin in a counterclockwise direction sliding sideways off the west edge of roadway, striking a telephone pole before overturning onto the roof, crushing it downward into the passenger’s side compartment,” the investigating trooper told reporters.

The driver was not a firefighter, the paper reported.

While the department members are mourning the loss, emergency calls with the Dagsboro fire district are being answered by a neighboring fire department.

Members said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Sussex County Volunteers.

It is the first line of duty death for the department in its 69-year history.