Fire station out of service as crew copes

Fire station out of service as crew copes with firefighter's death

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SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A firefighter has passed away after a weekend tragedy left him on life support for days.

The Jackson Heights Fire Department is out of service Monday night.

Friday, 20-old-year Jalen Smith was critically injured in a car crash. He and two other Jackson Heights Firefighters were on their way to another crash when the wreck happened.

Jalen Smith, driver Cornelius (C.J.) Redwine, and Gary Robinson were going to help someone in need when everything changed.

"Anytime you have one of your personnel hurt or injured in any way, it affects the whole department... especially in an incident where you're going to help somebody," says Smith County Firefighter's Association President Johnny Brown.

"The troopers responded to the scene, and what they found was a one vehicle that had ran off the road and overturned several times," says DPS Trooper Jean Dark.

Dark says the men were in a private vehicle -- not the station's-- when the wreck happened.

"Another vehicle may have pulled out in front of them causing the driver to brake and take some evasive action," Dark says. "He (Jalen) was found outside the vehicle but it's still under investigation as to how he got in that position."

As a young firefighter, Jalen grew up at the station. His grandfather was a founding member there. Jalen spent many years as a junior firefighter.

"He is a very good, stable young man, with a very good work ethic. Also, I understand that he was going to be presented his department's rookie of the year award," says Brown.

It's a loss that will hit the firefighting community hard.

"It's more or less like one big family," says Brown. "A brotherhood you might say. All firefighters have a common bond."

On Monday night, his brothers closed their doors to the public to mourn the loss of an outstanding young man, who was volunteering to do a dangerous job.

"When we finish a job, we want everybody to go home and be safe," says Brown.

Brown says the Arp, Chapel Hill and Winona Fire Departments will work Jackson Height's calls for them.

Jackson Heights Fire Chief Terence Thompson told us over the phone Monday night that plans for a memorial fund for Jalen Smith will be finalized later this week.


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