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Hundreds mourn Raleigh fire captain

Posted December 28, 2011
Updated December 29, 2011

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— Hundreds gathered Wednesday to bid farewell to a Raleigh fire captain, a week after he died in a head-on wreck in Oxford.

Capt. Jonathan Scott Nipper died Dec. 21 when he lost control of his car along a rain-slicked U.S. Highway 15 and collided with another vehicle. His 10-year-old daughter, Gracie, and the other driver were injured but survived.

Firefighters said Gracie was still recovering at Duke University Medical Center and wasn't able to travel for her father's memorial service at Providence Baptist Church and funeral at Raleigh Memorial Park.

Her mother said Nipper saved his daughter's life.

"I feel like, in my heart, that he turned that car enough to take the brunt of the accident," Amy Nipper said during the memorial service. "I told her, 'Your daddy took the brunt of that accident for you because that's what daddies do.'"

Those who knew Scott Nipper best said that faith was a strong part of his life – and so was his family.

"He wasn't just a dad to me. He was my best friend," Cody Nipper said in eulogizing his father. "The 16 years I got to know my dad were the greatest years I could ever ask for."

Cody Nipper said he and his father talked about everything, from girls to homework.

"I'm going to miss him. I love my dad," he said.

The family thanked the fire department and the Raleigh community for their support over the past week.

Raleigh firefighter Jonathan Scott Nipper Raleigh firefighter laid to rest

Fire Chief John McGrath said the support will continue, as firefighters plan to help modify the Nipper home to help with Gracie's recovery.

The fire truck Nipper captained – Engine 13 at Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Raleigh – was parked outside Providence Baptist Church as family and friends arrived for the service. The Raleigh Fire Department's honor guard was also on hand.

Raleigh firefighter Jonathan Scott Nipper Raleigh firefighter laid to rest

"That’s really a tribute to him as a member of our team and also to the team that he worked with that they wanted to be a part of saying good-bye and the grieving process," McGrath said.

He called Nipper a quiet leader who earned his way up the ranks with hard work, and he called Nipper's death "a blow to the soul."

"He was a very well-respected guy, pretty quiet, extremely competent and truly truly liked in the department,” the chief said.

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

He was described by his co-workers as a joker, someone who was fond of pranks but also a friend to those he supervised.

"If my sons could grow up to be like he was, I'll be one proud father," one firefighter said.

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.

"Sudden death is hard. Death is part of life. None of us like it. None of us know the answers, and you just have to trust, trust that there is a higher being looking out for all of us,” McGrath said.

27 Comments

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  • livlifeluvlife1 Dec 28, 2011

    I have a heavy heart for Scott and his family. Regardless of comments made here, a wonderful man has died and his family and friends have to heal. God bless them all.

  • xchief661 Dec 28, 2011

    My heart is broken for Scotts family. Praying for Gracie's quick recovery from this terrible accident. I pray that you will find peace and comfort in the days ahead. Scott will be missed by his extended family. God Bless!

  • bombayrunner Dec 28, 2011

    trekkie13 -- thanks, you read it correctly.

  • bombayrunner Dec 28, 2011

    for the record ... My heart goes out to all firefighters and officers that serve and bear the risk of coming home safely everynight. on or off duty, when I did this kind of work I'd always felt I was never completly off duty.

    But during the time I was on duty, one call was for my own partner, she died.

    Long after when I moved to another profession I was asked to check someone sick. He was in cardiac arrest, he lived.

    Seems like it all balances out in the end.

  • trekkie13 Dec 28, 2011

    firecaptain2000, ambulance drivers serve a vital and critical service since a lot of times their passengers are on the verge of life and death and very quick and timely and safe transport to the hospital is very critical and could mean the difference between life and death of a patient.

  • eccgc Dec 28, 2011

    Let the man rest in peace! A wise man once said, "Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?" Your negative comments will not change the fact that his man made an impact on his community and his family. It was an accident!

  • Ozzie Dec 28, 2011

    I have read the comments, and have commented myself. I can see the reasoning behind the ones that commented about our military not receiving the recognition deserved and I agree. I can see the reasoning behind the on duty-off duty status of our public safety people. Because,I have had closeto my heart military people with little or no recognition and I have had public safety people with off duty casualties with little or no recognition. But it matters not, when it comes to which ever's families' and loved one are involved, because THAT person is still gone and is still a void in their loved ones lives. And that person is still deserving of the respect and sympathy that which people choose to honor them with.

  • firecaptain2000 Dec 28, 2011

    Thank you WRAL for policing the negative comments on this page!!!

  • OpenM1nd Dec 28, 2011

    I never met Scott, but I wish that I had. I'd love to have some friends just like him.

  • Thought Criminal WS Dec 28, 2011

    The article says mourned by hundreds but it's more like thousands. This man touched so many people's lives around him in a positive way that his passing is newsworthy. He was an unspoken hero to many and an inspiration. People will be very quick to defend anything percieved as negative towards this man as he was quite well known in the local community and will be sadly missed.

    Lineofduty, in speaking with some firemen I was told he hydroplaned into another lane and was killed instantly on impact, with no suffering. At that point I did not ask for further details out of respect.

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