LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) — A firefighter was killed and three other first responders are in the hospital Saturday night. Police were at the scene of a DUI when they say a woman, who’s also accused of driving under the influence herself, crashed into them.
Captain Thomas Royds has been a firefighter for more than 30 years. His final act of courage comes on a call he wasn’t scheduled for. Now, a department is preparing to lay to rest a second firefighter in just weeks.
Royds was a lieutenant at the Bala Cynwyd Fire Department, filling a shift at Belmont Hills on Saturday when he was killed.
“He loved his job. We all love our jobs,” Lower Merion Fire Department Chief Chas McGarvey said. “We know it’s dangerous and as I said the last time, we know it’s dangerous and God, you don’t ever think something like this is going to happen.”
Fire crews from Belmont Hills and Gladwyne Fire Companies were blocking the right lane and shoulder on the Schuylkill Expressway while officers investigated a crash.
“We got up and provide blocking, what we call, for the troopers so they’re kept safe from the vehicles passing,” McGarvey said. “And we’ll take a lane up so the trooper can do what he needs to do with the driver.”
Just before 3:30 a.m. Saturday, units were getting prepared to leave the initial two-vehicle accident on the Schuylkill Expressway when officials say Jacqueline Walker drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee up the right shoulder, striking a Pennsylvania state trooper, three firefighters, and the Nissan Altima that was involved in the initial crash.
Video: Community Remember Firefighter Thomas Royds, Killed In I-76 Crash (CBS Philadelphia)
Walker is accused of driving under the influence.
Royds went into cardiac arrest at the scene, officials say. He was transported to Paoli Hospital, where he died a few hours later.
The other two firefighters were flown to Penn Presbyterian for surgery. The state trooper is also at Penn. He was taken by ground ambulance.
“If you’re on the highway, move over if you see an emergency vehicle,” McGarvey said.
Walker, who turned 63 on Saturday, was taken into custody at the scene. She is being charged with homicide by vehicle and related charges.
On Sunday, Royds’ body will be escorted from Paoli Hospital to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.
“We are mourning the loss of one of our own a young man taken too soon,” McGarvey said.
Walker is currently in Montgomery County Prison unable to post bail. She was arraigned earlier on Saturday. Her next court appearance is on Aug. 5.
The other two drivers in the original crash were also arrested and charged with DUI.
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