Anndee Huber's friends and family say she loved life and lived it to the fullest during her 16 years.
"She was very outgoing, loved her family and friends, loved helping people. She loved the thrill of life," said her brother Kevin Huber.
"Anndee was 16 years old but she was older than that - a little wiser, little stronger, more outgoing than most 16-year-olds were. Rather than doing the things teenagers do, she was down at the fire hall getting her training," Kevin said. "She really liked it. Whenever that pager went off here she was off in a flash."
Anndee joined the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department's Explorer program as soon as she turned 16 last October. "Probably the biggest driving force was that her brother Hayden went through the same program," Kevin said. Hayden completed the explorer program and served as a firefighter before he joined the Navy. He hadn't seen his younger sister for eight months, and got the news of her tragic death just as he returned home from his deployment aboard the Harry S Truman.
Kevin said Anndee was a 4.0 student, president of her sophomore class, a cross country runner, swimmer, and she liked to sing and play the piano. She was also secretary of the Explorers program. After high school she planned to go to college and possibly become a lawyer. "That's what she talked about most often. She also wanted to be a singer at times," Kevin said. "Basically whatever she decided to do she would have done that. We'll never know now."
On Thursday night Anndee was riding in a 4,000 gallon tanker with driver Ron J. Caillier as they responded to a report of burning railroad ties due to an earlier grass fire. Caillier lost control on the dirt road and the vehicle rolled one and 3/4 times. Anndee was ejected and trapped underneath. Caillier has been charged with driving under the influence and aggravated homicide by vehicle.
The first person on the scene was a railroad employee named Reed, Kevin said. "He was the first one to Anndee and he was with her for what he believed to be 15 minutes," Kevin said. "That was his estimate but it feels like an eternity." Kevin said the employee didn't feel a pulse, but held Anndee's head above the water as it gushed out of the tanker. When the rest of the fire crew arrived, they had to jack up the truck in order to extricate Anndee. She was transported to Weston County Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Kevin said doctors believe she died instantly.
He added that the outpouring of support from the firefighting community has been incredible.Inside the StoryThe Latest:Firefighter Charged with Homicide by Vehicle in Teen Fire Explorer's Death
"It has amazed me the past two days the tight knit bond that firefighters have. There are fire departments from all across the state that are sending trucks to be here," he said.
Fire Chief Clarence Baker said this was the first time that department firefighters have ever responded to such a serious incident involving one of their own, and the first time they have lost someone in the line of duty.
"There are a lot of guys hurting. We did some serious debriefing. It's not an easy thing when we lose one of our own," he said.
Baker described Anndee as bright and cheery, and a go-getter. She was the only girl serving in the Explorer program at the time of her death.
"She was quite a personality," Baker said. "She was kind of a take-charge person, she kept all the boys in line. With Anndee here you knew things were going to get done. She also got the guys going, and she wasn't above going to one of the guys and asking could you help me with this," the chief said.
Chris Burleson was Anndee