Firehouse.Com News 1-24-05
A 19-year-old Pennsylvania firefighter died in the line of duty Thursday, January 20 after crashing into a fire chief as they each responded to the scene of an earlier motor vehicle accident.
Walter Matthew Sarnoski joined the Sandy Township Fire Department in DuBois when he was 15 years old, said Acting Fire Department Chief Bill Beers.
Sarnoski, a member of the department’s Sabula Fire Company, was responding in his personal vehicle when he was involved in a crash with John Brown, chief of the Treasure Lake Fire Company.
Beers said the department is unable to discuss the accident while it is under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police.
According to previous news reports, Sarnoski lost control of his car and went off the berm. He then came back across both lanes of traffic and into the path of Brown’s sport utility vehicle, which hit Sarnoski’s sedan.
Sarnoski died at the scene, and Brown was transported to a hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, including a concussion, Beers said.
He said rescuers at the scene did not immediately realize Sarnoski was one of their own because members of his fire company were at the scene of the prior incident.
He added that this is the first line of duty death for the department. “It has hit us hard, but everyone’s coming together,” he said. “It’s still sinking in.”
Beers said Sarnoski loved the outdoors and loved being around the firehouse.
According to the St. Mary’s Daily Press, Sarnoski is survived by a son, his father and two brothers. He was also a student and was awaiting his call to Basic Training with the U.S. Army.
A firefighter funeral was held Monday, January 24 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Force.