DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A 19-year-old DeKalb County firefighter was killed in a crash in Gwinnett County Thursday night -- just hours after another firefighter was killed in another crash in Rockdale County.
Ethan Wootton was a passenger in a car that lost control on Stone Mountain Highway. Wootton, who had just graduated from the fire academy last month, died at the scene.
Police said the driver, Joshua Chi, crossed over the median into the westbound lanes and collided with another car around 11 p.m. Both Chi and the other driver were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
Channel 2's Lori Wilson was in DeKalb County, where firefighters said Wootton's team took the news pretty hard.
Captain Dion Bentley said the loss of a new firefighter hits especially hard.
"Nineteen years old. He had his whole life ahead of him, his career ahead of him, as a firefighter," Bentley said. "It's devastating, you know?"
Wootton walked across the stage at his graduation from the DeKalb County Fire Department on Jan 10. Bentley said when Wootton came to the academy, he was already a certified emergency medical technician (EMT), which made him an outstanding candidate.
Bentley said it took him only four months to finish the academy's training, which normally takes about nine months to complete.
"He came prepared at a young age," Bentley said. "It's rare for a young man to already have their EMT (certification) and to be ready to go and serve the public."
Police said alcohol was not a factor in the crash, but investigators were looking into whether speed or weather conditions played a role.
"He had a very promising career in front of him in the fire department," Bentley said. "He'll be sorely missed. It's tough."
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Rockdale County firefighters are still mourning a loss of their own.
On Thursday morning, firefighter Robert Alexander Sewell III died in a crash on wet roads during heavy rain while he drove to work. Investigators said he lost control of his car near Conyers.
Sewell was working on assignment as a training coordinator for new recruits.
“(He) brought value to our training department. He was an asset that will be missed by all of us at Rockdale fire,” Deputy Chief of Administration Marian McDaniel said.
The department is asking everyone to keep Sewell’s family in their prayers and said they are doing everything they can to assist the family.
“Robert Sewell was an asset to the department and a natural leader, he will be missed,” Rockdale Fire Chief Dan Morgan said in a news release Thursday evening.
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