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Firefighter Killed After Being Hit by School Bus

Firefighter Killed After Being Hit by School Bus

The Buffalo News via YellowBrix

October 05, 2010

DERBY, NY – A 49-year-old volunteer firefighter from Derby was struck and killed by a school bus shortly before dawn Monday at an intersection not far from his home.

Ronald Wattie, of Revere Drive, had to be freed from under the school bus that struck him at about 6:55 a.m. at Erie Road (Route 5) and Revere in the Town of Evans. He was taken to Lake Shore Community Hospital in Irving, where he was pronounced dead.

The community and Highland Hose Company, where Wattie had been a firefighter for 31 years, were reeling from the news late Monday. An evening meeting was held in the fire hall to help members cope with the tragedy.

“Ron was a very dedicated family man and a very dedicated firefighter,” said Highland Hose Chief Bob Trask, who had known Wattie for 32 years. “We’re really going to miss him, that’s for sure. He was a very important member.”

Highland Hose chaplain Jack Kuebler praised Wattie’s life.

“He was a really good guy. He never had a bad [word] for for anybody,” Kuebler said.

Evans police say they believe Wattie was walking south, trying to cross Erie Road, when he was struck by the northbound bus trying to turn left from Revere Drive onto the major roadway.

Both the bus driver and Wattie had a green light, Evans police said.

“I truly believe it was an accident,” police Capt. Charles Danzi said. “It was dark out. It’s too early in our investigation to say who may be at fault.”

Wattie was heading to catch a Metro Bus to work in Buffalo when he was hit.

Highland Hose members responding to the accident report included Wattie’s own son, Jeff, 26, a lieutenant with the fire company.

Firefighters quickly freed Wattie after he had been pinned under the vehicle and dragged 30 to 40 feet, authorities said.

The bus passengers, all middle school and high school students, were later transported to school on another bus.

“There was a middle school counselor who didn’t witness the accident, but she was there [in a minute or two], so she went on the bus and started calming the students down,” Danzi said.

Grief counselors also were available later to talk with the students.

In addition to his son, Wattie is survived by his wife, Christine, and a daughter, Stephanie, 19, an explorer with Highland Hose.

Firefighting runs in the Wattie family. Ron Wattie was a second-generation firefighter with the hose company that also included his father.

The Evans Police Accident Investigation Unit was continuing its investigation and might try to reconstruct the accident to determine exactly what happened.

After the accident, authorities had to close Erie Road in both directions, between Hamilton Drive and South Creek Road, just before the start of the morning rush hour.