BELMONT HILLS, Pa. (CBS) — A community of firefighters, friends, and family gathered outside of the Belmont Hill Fire Company on Saturday to remember a firefighter killed in the line of duty. The fire department is now coping with yet another loss, one that they say could have been prevented.
A flag at half staff; black bunting draped over fire trucks; tight hugs that symbol solidarity as firefighters with the Belmont Hills Fire Company recognized the end of watch for firefighter Thomas Edwin Royds.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of firefighter Tom Royds,” Lower Merion Fire Department Chief Chas McGarvey said.
Royds died after he, along with two other firefighters and a Pennsylvania state trooper, was struck by a driver. They were responding to an accident along the Schuylkill Expressway around 3:30 a.m. Saturday.
McGarvey described the longtime first responder as a father of three who truly loved his profession. People who knew him said he comes from a long line of firefighters.
“I knew Tommy’s family since Tommy was born,” Bill Coleman said. “It’s a shame. The other two guys that got injured, I really don’t know, but apparently, they got hurt pretty good too.”
In April, Pennsylvania enhanced its move over law. It requires drivers to move over or slow down when they see an emergency or disabled vehicle. It’s a simple task the fire chief is urging people to adhere to as they mourn the loss of their colleague and friend killed in the line of duty.
“He loved his job. We all love our jobs,” McGarvey said. “We know it’s dangerous and as I said the last time, we know it’s dangerous and God, you don’t ever think something like this is going to happen.”
This tragedy is now one of two to hit the department this month alone.
“It hasn’t even been three weeks since I stood before you regarding our last line of duty death with Wynnewood firefighter Sean DeMuynck,” McGarvey said.
Last night’s tragedy struck the Lower Merion Fire Department once again,” McGarvey said, “and once again, we are mourning the loss of one of our own a young man taken too soon.”
Royds had been a firefighter since 1988. He was filling in for someone the morning he was killed.
CBS3’s Jasmine Payoute reports.