MOUNT HERMON, La.-- A volunteer firefighter driving a water truck to a house fire was killed when the truck left the roadway and crashed Thursday.
The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. near the intersection of Mt. Pisgah Road and Burch Road.
According to the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office, volunteer firefighter Ronda Varnado, 54, was driving a fully-loaded water truck to the scene of a house fire when she was involved in a wreck. Officials said the truck tipped over, sliding several yards before hitting an embankment. That’s when officials said the water tank came loose and crashed into the truck cab killing Vanardo.
Friday evening flowers could be seen sitting outside of Varnado's vehicle near the District No. 2 station.
"That particular agency, district 2 had about 174 calls last year. And she responded to every single one of them with the exception of one," Major Justin Brown with the Franklinton Police Department said, "She's married into my family. And also, one of our police officers here that was his spouse."
Major Brown tells Eyewitness News Varnado was a mother of two sons and two step-sons. She was also a retired registered nurse and described her as a caring woman with a beautiful personality.
"She was always very outgoing. Had a smile on her fact. Was always willing to engage with you in conversation. Just a pleasure to be around," Major Brown said.
Hours after the crash, condolences from friends and first responders poured in. Many people paying tribute to a woman who dedicated her life to helping others.
“This is a tragedy which affects not only the Varnado family, but also the entire Washington Parish volunteer firefighter community,” said Sheriff Randy Seal. “Our volunteer firefighters do an excellent job providing fire response throughout the parish and are to be commended for their dedication and service to the citizens of our parish. I ask our entire citizenry to join with me in prayer for all who have been affected.”
Whenever you have a first responder. somebody that's given a part of themselves, that doesn't receive any compensation for it. They put their life on the line to go out and help other people, it affects the community as a whole because of what they do. Not only because they knew that person, but just because of what they gave of themselves," Major Brown said.
An investigation into the crash continues pending further analysis of the scene, according to Seal.
Here are the final arrangements for FF Ronda Varnado of the Washington Parish Fire Dist. 2 for July 9, 2017.
10:00 a.am to 2:00 p.m.
Crain Funeral Home
1109 Bene St.
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (approximately)
Crain Funeral Home
Bethel Baptist Cemetery
42592 Par Rd.
Honor Guard members are asked to arrive at the funeral home by 9:30 a.m.
Truck line up will be at Crain Funeral Home with personnel on site to direct to specific locations.
Departments are asked to arrive with apparatus no later than 12:00 noon.