Local News

Volunteer firefighter's commitment 'an inspiration'

Posted January 9, 2012

— Robeson County firefighter Samuel Butler wanted to be on every call. That is why, when he heard about a wreck on Sunday about a mile from his home on westbound Interstate 74, he got into his personal vehicle and headed to the scene to meet members of his team.

Butler, 52, of Maxton, was trying to make a U-turn at the end of a ramp on I-74 just before 11 p.m. when his Toyota Camry was T-boned by a tractor-trailer traveling east. Butler, who was not wearing a seat belt, died on impact, officials said. The Highway Patrol said Butler's vehicle was equipped with red fire lights, but it is unclear whether he had turned them on.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, 37-year-old Robert Barrett, of Massachusetts, was not hurt. He will not face charges in the wreck.

The wreck Butler was responding to was minor and the driver was not seriously hurt.

Robeson firefighter was inspiration Robeson firefighter was inspiration

Butler, the father of two volunteer firefighters, was the chief of the Evans Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, 3440 Elrod Road in Maxton. He also served as the president of the Robeson County Firemen's Association.

“He was Sam Butler – the fireman," said Chad Deese, 32, who worked with Butler at Evans Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department. "(Butler) would never question, never hesitate, never quarrel, never complain. He was dependable and reliable."

Deese said Butler was an inspiration.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Lightfoot3 Jan 10, 2012

    Very sad. Volunteers serve a great purpose.

    Are emergency responders trained in how to drive when responding? While it seems like common sense, this isn't the first time someone has done a U-turn into traffic.

  • Fx432 Jan 9, 2012

    Retire07, you hit the nail on the head. Tragic accident, but when responding to fire alarm activations, woods fires and minor accidents outweigh one's personal safety, these tragic events will continue to occur.

  • jd21 Jan 9, 2012

    Rest in Peace Brother Firefighter/Chief. Have nearly been killed twice by secondary accidents-- civilian vehicles striking emergency vehicles at minor accident scenes, even with every conceivable safety precaution. One was driven by a drunk who went right through a perfect flare line full-speed right into the back of a police car with its emergency lights on fortunately positioned as a blocker to protect us. My own chief's car was struck as a blocker car before I could exit it at another minor scene. I spent a week in the hospital. Being in traffic is far more dangerous than fires; just heard of less. Hence the get the "fender benders" off the road and "move over slow down" for emergency vehicles laws. I was in Departments where we would NOT commit any units to an Interstate response until the first unit checked it and specified what was needed and NO personal vehicles could go to scene. Other drivers are just too crazy; risk way too high to justify any benefit.

  • Retired07 Jan 9, 2012

    Tragic. These volunteers serve a great purpose in rural situations. The adrenalin flows strong in many of these young volunteers especially and the danger created by the responders overshadow the severity of many minimal emergencey situations they are responding to.

  • MudLife Jan 9, 2012

    So very sad, God Bless Mr. Butler prayers to his family and to his "brothers and Sisters" at the Fire Department.

  • kermit60 Jan 9, 2012

    A tragic accident. I hope all first responders take this to heart and use more caution when responding and doing there job.

  • lkj0810 Jan 9, 2012

    Our thoughts & prayers go out to the family & the fire Dept. from Wilson County Firefighters Association.Thank you for your services to help others over the years.

  • jmanarc Jan 9, 2012

    It is always sad when we lose one of our fellow "brothers". Thoughts and prayers go out to the family, his friends, and his "brothers" at the Fire Department. It is too bad that this happened, but you can believe that he will be rewarded for his service to his fellow man by GOD!!! Hope that the family will get peace in their hearts knowing that he was trying to help others when he paid the ultimate price.

  • not my real name Jan 9, 2012

    One split second bad decision. Life is too short. RIP Mr. Butler.

  • nanasix Jan 9, 2012

    God Bless him, and his family. What they sacrifice for others is never appreciated enough.