Community mourns young firefighter’s death - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Community mourns young firefighter’s death

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ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Friends of 18 year old Caleb Benfield say he loved his time as part of the Explorer Program at the Alexander County Sheriff's Office and was excited when three weeks ago he moved up from the junior program at the Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Department to become a full fledged firefighter.

Wednesday, on his way to the firehouse to help run displays for school children, Benfield lost control of his motorcycle, hit a fence, and was critically injured. Several hours later, with family at his side, he died.

"He was an outstanding young man with a bright future," said Sheriff's Deputy Rick Lail. "He had a great smile and just got along well with everyone."

The death has hit the community hard, said officials. Fire Chief Shannon Lowrance said when the call came in about a wreck just up Richey road from the fire department no one knew it was Caleb.

Among the first responders who went to the scene was Caleb's brother. The chief said it wasn't long before he got a phone call. "They said you'd better get down here, it's one of our own."

Medical teams kept Caleb alive as he was transported to the hospital. His family gathered at his side and despite efforts of doctors, he passed away late Wednesday.

"He was the kind of son every mother would have loved to have had," said family friend Pamela Courtney. She and dozens of others gathered at the wreck scene on Thursday to pray and remember the young man. "We are all here to support the family,' said Gloria Whitener as she helped one of Caleb's sisters put up posters and a picture on a cross.

The death has hit the community hard, say officials, because most everyone knows someone in the family. Including Caleb, there were eight children in the household with all of them involved in their church and  mission projects.

Others were in explorer programs at the sheriff's office and the fire department.

The family says their faith in God is what will get them through the tough days ahead. Friends say they will do whatever they can to help saying they are feeling the pain of the loss too.

"He will be missed terribly," said Pamela Courtney.

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