Officials urge drivers to avoid roads after firefighter dies while working icy West Feliciana crash
ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A firefighter was killed after responding to a crash Wednesday morning, according to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office.
The incident happened around 9 a.m. on U.S. 61 north of LA 421 near St. Francisville.
State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says the firefighter, who was with the West Feliciana Fire Protection District, was struck by a secondary vehicle working a crash on U.S. 61 The firefighter was pronounced dead at a local hospital. He has been identified as Wakefield Fire Chief Russell Achord, 48.
"Such a sad situation to see this firefighter lost to this type of tragedy," said Browning.
The initial investigation revealed the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office and the Wakefield Fire Department were investigating a wreck in the southbound lanes of U.S. 61, while at the same time, Robert McCoy, 51, of Tallulah, was driving southbound on U.S. 61 in a 2018 Dodge Ram 5500 pulling a trailer. McCoy lost control of his truck on the icy road as he approached the scene of the wreck. His truck hit multiple first responder vehicles and Achord as he was helping one of the drivers on the scene.
"That driver struck several first responder vehicles and there were two injuries," said Bryan Lee with Louisiana State Police.
Achord sustained serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. McCoy was wearing his seat belt at the time of the wreck and was not injured.
Browning says both crashes are currently under investigation by LSP. Authorities say icy roadway conditions were a factor in both crashes.
LSP has taken over the investigation and at this point do not believe alcohol played a role in the crash. Instead, Lee says the culprit was likely icy conditions. It's a tragedy Lee says could have been prevented.
"It's why we ask people not to drive unless you have to drive," said Lee. "We just ask people to help us out."
He says the help is simple: stay off the roads unless it is an emergency. Those who choose to risk it put themselves in danger, but also those who have to come to their rescue. "This shows the dangers of having those first responders out there and responding to multiple crashes," Lee added.
Just in the Troop A area, Lee says they responded to more than 100 crashes Wednesday. He understands there are some cases where folks have to drive, but says they need to be careful with another hard freeze expected overnight.
Lee encourages anyone who finds themselves beginning to slide on the road to turn their steering wheel towards the skid. He says they should never slam on the brakes or panic.
"Try to remain calm and understand this before you pull out, before you leave home, and go over that in your head," said Lee.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this dedicated firefighter, as well as to his fire service family and the community of West Feliciana Parish," Browning said in a statement.
Achord began his career as a volunteer with the Fire Protection District more than 24 years ago. He's had an accomplished career as a paramedic, a law enforcement officer, and a firefighter. Achord earned numerous awards, including an award for valor in the line of duty. During the last three and half years, Achord served as deputy fire chief.
He is survived by his wife, two children, and his second family in the Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish.
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