Firefighter in critical condition after crash - KCTV5

Fort Osage assistant fire chief killed in crash while responding to call

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Harold Hollingsworth, a 16-year veteran with Fort Osage, was driving his fire department SUV during a severe thunderstorm about 10 p.m. Sunday while heading to a fire in Buckner.  (Photo courtesy: Fort Osage Fire Protection District) Harold Hollingsworth, a 16-year veteran with Fort Osage, was driving his fire department SUV during a severe thunderstorm about 10 p.m. Sunday while heading to a fire in Buckner. (Photo courtesy: Fort Osage Fire Protection District)
JACKSON, MO (KCTV/AP) -

A 47-year-old assistant Fort Osage fire chief was killed in a single-car accident Sunday night while responding to a call.

Harold Hollingsworth, a 16-year veteran with Fort Osage, was driving his fire department SUV during a severe thunderstorm about 10 p.m. Sunday while heading to a fire in Buckner.

That was when the SUV slid off the road and hit a tree during the heavy downpour. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died Sunday night.

Hollingsworth was married and had two sons.

Fort Osage Fire Protection District Chief John Yocum lauded his fallen comrade in a news conference, saying he was dedicated and passionate. Yocum detailed Hollingsworth's 25-year career helping fight fires and save lives. He served in the Missouri National Guard. Hollingsworth also served for a time on the Lexington school board.

"He will be deeply missed," Yocum said. "Harold was always positive. He was the guy who always wanted you to look at the positive side."

Todd Farley, an assistant fire chief with the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, said it's the first time a Fort Osage firefighter has died in the line of duty.

"[He] was a valued member of the Fort Osage Fire Protection District and served this community with honor and integrity. He leaves behind a loving family and fire department family," Farley said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating.

Funeral arrangements were pending Monday.

It was a tough day Monday for both the Fort Osage and Lexington fire departments.

Hollingsworth lived in Lexington, where he was a part-time firefighter and medic. He joined the Lexington department in 1989. He joined the Fort Osage department in 1997 but continued his role with the Lexington agency.

"He loved the fire service," Yocum said. "The one thing he loved more than the fire service was his wife and his two children."

He was active in his children's lives, including participating in Boy Scouts and coaching wrestling.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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