Local News

Raleigh fire captain 'much admired'

Posted December 21, 2011
Updated December 22, 2011

— The death of a captain from the Raleigh Fire Department Wednesday in an off-duty wreck is resonating through the department, Chief John McGrath said.

Chief: Firefighter's death a blow Chief: Firefighter's death a blow

"He was a much admired and much liked member of the Raleigh Fire Department," McGrath said Thursday afternoon. He called Nipper's death a "blow to the soul."

The state Highway Patrol said the rainy weather was likely to blame for the wreck that killed Jonathan Scott Nipper in a head-on crash of U.S. Highway 15 South and Dixon Road in Oxford.

Nipper was the captain of Engine 13 at Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Raleigh. 

His daughter, 10-year-old Gracie Nipper, was also in the vehicle. She was taken to Duke University Medical Center in Durham for treatment of multiple fractures. McGrath said Gracie underwent surgery for a broken leg Wednesday night and was scheduled to have another surgery on Thursday. He said she remained in serious condition but is expected to recover. 

Granville County volunteer firefighter Hunter Dixon was among the first people on the scene of the crash. He said rescue crews had to cut the little girl out of the vehicle. 

"The red one that he was in, the front of it was pushed all the way into the seat. It was pretty bad," Dixon said. 

The driver of the other vehicle, whose name was not released, sustained non life-threatening injuries.

Jonathan Scott Nipper Raleigh firefighter dies in Oxford wreck

Nipper had been with the Raleigh Fire Department for the past 15 years. He became captain three years ago. 

Firefighters who knew Nipper said he was a great guy with a terrific sense of humor.

Before Wednesday's Carolina Hurricanes game, there was a moment of silence for Nipper.

The Raleigh Fire Department has lost three firefighters in the past three years to wrecks. Lt. Harry P. "Flip" Kissinger IV, 35, of Wake Forest, died Dec. 11, 2009, a week after a school bus struck the pickup truck he was driving. Kissinger was with Fire Station 6.

Firefighter Andrew Johnson died Dec. 5, 2008, from injuries sustained in an ATV wreck. 


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  • boatrokr Dec 23, 2011

    May God give comfort to this grieving family and healing to the little girl. Rest in Peace, Captain Nipper, and thank you for your life of courage and service to your community.

  • carydaddy Dec 23, 2011

    Truly sad news for this family. If any of you have ever lost a loved one around Christmas, then you understand how your pain is magnified during the holiday season. May God give this family peace as well as comfort the Raleigh fire department as they deal with the death of a loved one and colleague.

  • Ninnyboo Dec 22, 2011

    Prayers and comfort to all parties in this accident.

  • ypeople Dec 22, 2011

    Do some of you not understand just how many accidents with injuries there are in the WRAL viewing area a day? This made news because it was a local public servant and he was the fatality. Prayers should go out to all involved but some of you need to get a grip on reality and keep your idiotic comments to yourselves. Its a tragedy for all involved. His family lost a loving father and husband who would give his life for anyone commenting (even the dumb ones) without a second thought. Prayers for a full recovery for both his daughter and the other young lady, both will fully recover but one will have to without her father. So again, some of you GET A GRIP. God bless you and RIP Capt Nipper.

  • Malaki Dec 22, 2011

    carolinabluegrassfan - Totally agree and the media shouldn't be asking such questions, or should that detail be included in a story if it was shared.

    Thoughts and prayers to all involved as well, and a speedy recovery to the little girl.

  • MudLife Dec 22, 2011

    Thoughts and prayers to the family and everyone involved. Glad his little girl is going to be okay. Thoughts and prayers to the family at the Raleigh Fire Dept. RIP Captain.

  • trwynn2 Dec 22, 2011

    Mighter, Dixon rd is a private drive just south of the old livestock arena a mile or two south of the Walmart.

  • carolinabluegrassfan Dec 22, 2011

    Speaking as a twenty-five year veteran of the fire service, and a retired Chief, firefighters on the scene should not be giving statements or making remarks unless they are trained in dealing with the media and are serving as the designated Public Information Officer for their agency.

    Making such comments is unprofessional, regardless of whether they are being paid or volunteering their services. I struggled with it constantly with my department members...it's human nature to share details and soak up the limelight of being the first on the scene, the one that made the rescue, the one that extinguished the fire, etc.

    We all make mistakes...and we should all learn from them.

    Discuss the call at the station after it's over, but not in public and not in front of the press. That responsiblity lies solely with the Public Information Officer and/or Chief.

    I'm praying for everyone involved: victims, families, friends, co-workers, and responders.

  • allsmileshere Dec 22, 2011

    @WritNEWlaws we dated a few times

    Was that really needed?

  • QT3.14 Dec 22, 2011

    Prayers for his family, especially his wife and daughter. Praying for the other driver and her family as well. So sad. :(