‘Tragic accident’ claims life of Hartland firefighter
Judy Spencer, 65, was very dedicated to Hartland Volunteer Fire Company past 20 years
HARTLAND – A Hartland firefighter who was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday night was one of the most dedicated members of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Company.
Judy Spencer, 65, was struck and run over by a fire truck on Tuesday night, She responded to a scene of a hay bale fire in Somerset on Quaker Road, north of Route 18.
She was serving as a spotter for a Barker Fire Department rescue truck that was backing up. She was struck and run over at about 8:40 p.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I would say this is a tragic, tragic accident,” said Niagara County Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti during a news conference this afternoon outside the Hartland fire hall on Ridge Road.
Spencer had been a volunteer with Hartland for at least 20 years, said Bryan Ames, the Hartland fire chief.
“She was a great person,” he said. “She was very reliable. She was one of our top responders.”
Filicetti said the truck was inspected and no mechanical issues or problems were discovered. He didn’t fault the driver, stressing several times it was a “tragic accident.” He doesn’t expect any charges to be filed but an investigation is continuing.
Spencer’s death is the first line-of-duty death for a firefighter in Niagara County since 2012, said Jonathan Schultz, director of Emergency Services & Fire Coordinator for Niagara County.
He said about a dozen fire companies were called to the scene Tuesday night for 50 hay bales on fire. Firefighters were on scene until about midnight.
Hartland is currently not responding to any calls while the members grieve the loss of a much-loved firefighter.
“It’s a very challenging time for us,” Ames said.
Hartland also is mourning the death of one of its charter members. Merle Snell, 89, died on Aug. 21 and was a very active volunteer for Hartland for several decades.