ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — Friends and family are remembering a firefighter who was killed in a crash on his way home from church.
Rockdale County Fire Lt. Chad Smith, 42, was driving in the rain on Sunday when his car hydroplaned on Highway 138 and crashed into a tree. Authorities said he died on impact.
Family members said Smith was at church practicing for an Easter play in which he was playing Jesus.
"One afternoon he was portraying Jesus and the next moment he's actually talking to Jesus," pastor Gary Waterman said.
Fire Chief Brandon Marlow said fellow firefighters responded to the crash not knowing it was one of their own.
"It was a shock because we had just gotten off duty that morning," he said.
Family members said they were also shocked by the crash.
"It's unreal," the victim's brother, Matthew Smith, said.
Family members said Chad Smith was a husband, father of two and a 15-year veteran of Rockdale County Fire and Rescue.
Matthew Smith said he will be there for his brother's children, who are 7 and 9 years old.
"He made life better and I hope that I can help instill that in them," he said.
Waterman said the loss of Chad Smith will impact the entire community.
"There are so many lives that he touched that he doesn't realize or no one close to him realizes," he said.
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