Maxton, N.C. — 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.
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.