Firefighter clearing storm debris from road killed, driver charged with DWI

Published: Oct. 9, 2017 at 11:14 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2017 at 5:12 PM EDT
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Stewart (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
Stewart (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A volunteer firefighter from the Triple Community Fire Department in Drexel was killed after being hit by a car while trying to clear debris from a road in Morganton Sunday night.

According to a spokesperson with the fire department, firefighters were dispatched to a tree that was blocking the eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 70 East near the Drexel intersection just before midnight.

A driver struck 40-year-old Jason Keith Hensley. Hensley was killed "instantly upon impact," officials said.

Officials say Hensley and another firefighter were wearing reflective vests and standing next to vehicles, including a firetruck, that had emergency lights flashing.

Fire Marshall Mike Willis says the truck, driven by 58-year-old Randall Stewart, hit Hensley, Hensley's vehicle and then the firetruck.

Highway Patrol says Stewart was charged with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired, driving without a license, reckless driving, not wearing a seat belt, possessing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia.  Stewart has been in the hospital since the wreck.

Troopers expect more serious charges to be filed in the coming days.

At the fire department on Monday, the flag was lowered and Hensley's firefighting gear and helmet were placed on the front of a fire truck.

"This department has been hit hard," said firefighter James Deal.

Hensley joined the department in March and would answer calls for help day or night, said Deal. Hensley leaves behind a wife and two sons.

Officials released funeral arrangements Monday night.

A procession of Honor will accompany the body of Firefighter Jason Keith Hensley from Winston Salem to Heritage Funeral Home in Valdese, NC on October 10, 2017. The Procession will depart from Christ United Methodist Church on Starnes Street at 10 am to Winston Salem and depart Winston Salem at approximately 1 pm returning to Valdese.

The family will receive friends on Thursday October 12, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home 1507 East Main Street Valdese, NC.

The funeral will be held on Friday October 13, at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Drexel at 200 South Main Street Drexel, NC.

Burial will be at Hillcrest Cemetery at 1121 Praley Street SW in Valdese, NC.

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