LOS ANGELES — A local fire department is mourning the loss of one of its own following a crash that also injured two colleagues.
The three Marietta firefighters were on vacation in Los Angeles when the wreck happened.
Ron Herens, 23, died in the wreck.
Marietta Fire Chief Jackie Gibbs struggled with not only losing one of his department’s best and youngest but with the frustration of dealing with the loss of Herens happening so far away.
"It's like all of the wind is knocked out of us right now," Gibbs said.
Gibbs told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt it helped to remember his ever-present smile.
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His smile was a little mischievous. He was fun to be around, fun around the fire station, and everybody here thought the world of Ron Herens," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said Herens and four other young firefighters, the class of 2013, were wrapping up a vacation trip in LA when their rental car was rammed at an intersection.
“They were all belted in. All driving perfectly safely down the street, and just blindsided," Gibbs told Cavitt. “When Ron was moved from the accident scene, he was escorted by fire and police and coroners escort when his body was removed."
Marietta resident Shirley Newsome's grandson is a firefighter in Cobb County and she told Cavitt she was shocked that a man who likely has saved lives in wrecks, lost his life in one so far away.
“I thought it was horrible. It's horrible. I just can't believe somebody would, something like that would happen. It's awful," Newsome said.
Marietta's mayor spent time at Fire Headquarters consoling firefighters of the small, 135-member department, in which the pain of this loss will be felt for years.
"He was a valued member of this department. We will sincerely miss him," Gibbs said.