Castor Fire Department and Coronation Fire Department were called to a motor vehicle accident on Highway 599 northeast of Castor Friday, Feb. 4.
Due to the extremely icy conditions made by freezing rain, one of the firetrucks ran by firefighter Stephen Rayfield and Fire Chief Patrick Kelly rolled.
As a result, firefighter Rayfield lost his life. Kelly sustained injuries but has been released from hospital to recuperate at home.
“My heart is truly broken,” said wife Cheryl Rayfield Sunday evening on Facebook. “Nothing will ever be the same again… When it went off Friday night I said to him ‘Please do not go tonight’ and his reply was ‘Babe I have to go it’s a roll over someone might be hurt and need help, I have to go and help’. This showed not only his dedication to his other family the Castor Fire Fighters and community but showed how much he always ‘just wanted to help and make a difference in the world’. So many times he would say this.”
“This has been a traumatic event for all our fire fighters and their families. So please support them in any ways you can in the coming days,” added Mayor Richard Elhard and Castor councillors as they shared the news online.
Leanne Lattery Gould and Neal Gould also shared their sympathies, noting it was their accident that the department was responding to.
“There are times in life when we just don’t know the right way to do things and this is definitely one of those times. Neal was involved in an accident Friday due to freezing rain and while he is OK, (truck is not) our hearts are breaking for the family and friends of the firefighter who lost his life going out to help Neal as well as the Chief who is injured.”
“We want the families to know we could never say the right thing to bring you any comfort but do feel we need to let you know how much you are all appreciated and respected. Our first responders work in horrific situations in the worse conditions and I now know the panic that their families face with every call out. Castor Fire dept, and community and the families of those lost or injured we are forever grateful to you.”
Coronation RCMP, RCMP Forensic Collision Reconstruction and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety continue to investigate the collision.
The Edmonton office of the Chief Medical Examiner will be conducting an autopsy at a later date.
Preliminary findings indicate that road conditions may have been a contributing factor.
“It is a reminder to all first responders how dangerous our jobs are. Our hearts go out to their family’s and our partners in Castor fire department” said Sgt. John Pike of the Coronation detachment.