Family of fallen firefighter talks about his dedication to helping others, funeral plans set

Family of fallen firefighter talks about his dedication to helping others

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Family and friends of a Rowan County firefighter who died after crashing his pick up truck while responding to a call on Wednesday was remembered today for his dedication to the fire service.

The Highway Patrol says Michael Goodnight tried to pass a car in a no passing zone on Gold Knob Road in eastern Rowan County when that car turned left and was struck by Goodnight's truck.

Goodnight's last day on earth started in the joy and festivities of the Faith Fourth of July parade.  He was riding in a firetruck on the parade route, waving at thousands of people, less than four hours later he was life was over.

"I can say, unfortunately I don't like giving him up, but it's not my choice…God's reason…he died happily doing that," said Judy Burris.

Judy Burris is the older sister of Michael Goodnight.  She says from the age of seven, all he wanted to do was to be a firefighter.

"That was his passion…was to help others. It fulfilled his needs and that's what he wanted."

"Well, it's a job, you know, we have to do a job and he was going to do that job," said West Liberty Fire Chief Darrin Trexler. "He was as dedicated the first day he got here as he was yesterday."

The Office of the State Fire Marshal provided information about the funeral services Thursday night.

Funeral services for Firefighter Michael Goodnight will be held on Monday July 9 at West Liberty Fire Department, 135 Saint Matthews Church Road Salisbury, 28146.

The visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the memorial service at will begin at 1:00 p.m.

At a press conference Chief Trexler said his department goes on more than 500 calls every year in eastern Rowan County, and he says Goodnight was dedicated to helping this community.

"He would do as much for you as he would for his family.  He would do as much for anybody in the community, he would help them as much as he would help anybody else," Trexler added.

Wednesday's accident was tragic for all involved.  Penny Stokes and Sarah Alzaid were airlifted to the hospital to be treated for their injuries, Goodnight died at the scene.  His sister said today they're having a tough time.

"Please keep us in your prayers," Burris said. "Definitely  It's hard and it's hit us, but I think yet to come it's going to be harder on us when we it hits us knowing that Michael's not going to come to the house no more, just knowing that."

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