Hanover mourns loss of firefighter who died along I-295 during storm
Hanover County firefighters on Friday were still processing the news that one of their colleagues was killed the night before while responding to the scene of a two-vehicle crash during Tropical Storm Michael, and the firefighter’s family was grieving his loss.
Lt. Brad Clark, 43, of Mechanicsville was one of four Hanover firefighters struck as a southbound tractor-trailer ran into the back of a firetruck about 9 p.m. on Interstate 295 north of the Meadowbridge Road-Pole Green Road exit, according to Virginia State Police. The tractor-trailer’s driver was charged.
Clark died at the scene. Two other firefighters were taken to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
Hanover Fire-EMS officials said Friday afternoon that one of the injured firefighters was in stable condition and the other firefighter was in serious but stable condition. A
fourth firefighter suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene, state police said.
Keri Broughton, Clark’s ex-wife, recalled Friday how he loved being a firefighter.
“I think he got the same brotherhood, camaraderie [as a firefighter] as he had when he was in the military, when he was in the Army,” Broughton said.
Brady Clark, the firefighter’s 14-year-old daughter, said that her dad was very funny, but she added that he also would tell corny jokes that she would have to pretend to laugh at.
“I just loved him so much,” Brady Clark said. “There were times when we didn’t get along like most parent and kid situations, but I wouldn’t have traded him for anything in the world. I wouldn’t have asked for any other person to be my dad.”
Battalion Chief Gregory Martin with Hanover FireEMS said Clark had been with the department since July 2005.
Fire officials asked members of the media to keep a distance from Station 6 in Mechanicsville where Clark worked. As firefighters were coping with the tragic news, they were still tasked with responding to calls, Martin said.
They’re vigilant, but like anybody else they continue with the mission,” Martin said. “They are trying to come to grips with what’s happened.”
The tractor-trailer ran into the back of the firetruck while it was stopped in the far left lane and shoulder. State police said the engine’s emergency lights were activated. The tractor-trailer struck the four firefighters while they were outside the engine, authorities said.
Driver Lester Labarge, 49, of California, Md., was charged with reckless driving and cited for defective brakes, authorities said. Labarge was taken to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
The crash remains under investigation, and additional charges are pending, state police said.
Clark was recalled during a news conference held by Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday at the state emergency operations center in Chesterfield County.
“Many of my emergency management staff knew and worked with him,” said Jeff Stern, director of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
About 1:15 p.m. Friday, the flag that was flying in front of Station 6 was lowered and folded up as firefighters and Hanover sheriff’s deputies saluted.
Other fire departments tweeted out support and prayers for Hanover Fire-EMS.
“Our hearts are broken to hear of a LODD [line of duty death] so close to home! I wish our Brothers and Sisters in Hanover great strength in the coming days and prayers for both the agency and all the families involved,” the Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post. “Once again folks ... PLEASE MOVE OVER AND SLOW DOWN! The biggest risk that we take should not be providing rescue services on a side of the road!”
Lilly Clark, Brad Clark’s 11-year-old daughter, said her dad always cared about helping others.
“He was just a great person, and he really didn’t deserve this,” she said.
Two men hug at the Hanover fire station where Lt. Brad Clark (below), who was killed Thursday night in a crash, worked.
A tractor-trailer ran into the back of a firetruck while it was stopped alongside I-295 as firefighters were responding to a crash during Tropical Storm Michael.