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Firefighter dies week after school bus crash

Posted December 11, 2009

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— A Raleigh firefighter injured in a chain-reaction wreck last week has died.

Lt. Harry P. "Flip" Kissinger IV, 35, of Wake Forest, died Friday afternoon at WakeMed, Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Styons said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Firefighter loses battle for life, week after wreck Firefighter loses battle for life, week after wreck

A lieutenant at Fire Station 6 in Raleigh, Kissinger was driving home from work early on the morning of Dec. 4 when a school bus struck the pickup truck he was driving. The bus crashed into a ditch with the cab of the truck crushed beneath it.

He suffered numerous injuries, including severe head trauma.

Kissinger was with the Raleigh Fire Department for 12 years and had been working to make captain's rank.

"Flip was one of those quintessential firefighters – young, handsome, strong, beloved by all, a bit of a jokester and a prankster," Styons said. "He was truly the kind of guy that makes it fun to come to work."

Fellow firefighters kept vigil over the past week at the hospital, rotating in and out to be there for their colleague. Styons called Kissinger's death a tremendous loss for the department, saying they consider themselves family.

"It's a sad day," he said. "We're supposed to be a pretty tough bunch – and day in and day out, we are – but there's been a lot of tears shed today."

David Sims, pastor of Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest, where Kissinger, his wife and two young daughters attended, wrote on the church Web site that he was "one of those guys that loved everyone and helped everyone."

"And in turn, everyone loved Flip. He loved his family, his fellow firefighters, his friends and his church," he continued. "Flip loved the Lord and was a man of faith. And so our temporary loss becomes heaven's great gain."

Hundreds of people also posted messages Friday afternoon on a Facebook page set up for the public to send well wishes and to offer prayers.

"Heaven has just received such a precious angel," one person wrote. "I am praying for peace for your family."

"We will miss you, pal," another wrote.

A fund has been established in Kissinger's name to help care for his family, according to a city-issued news release Friday. Donations to the "Kissinger Family Care Fund" can be made at any First Citizens Bank.

Charges are still pending in the wreck.

The state Highway Patrol said Tuesday that the bus driver, Sheila Wimbush Hall, 52, of Garner, was at fault when she crossed the center line on Ligon Mill Road near Louisburg Road in Raleigh and collided with a westbound station wagon.

The bus then continued into the oncoming lane, striking Kissinger's truck.

Investigators determined that neither alcohol nor speed was a factor.

Hall, who was hired by the Wake County Public School System in May 2006, is suspended with pay pending the Highway Patrol's investigation, a school system spokesman has said.


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  • craziecrafter Dec 11, 2009

    My heart goes out to the family of the firefighter. Accidents happen and I hope the bus driver will be ok also.

  • NHFD 4030 Dec 11, 2009

    RIP Brother

    In case it hasn't been mentioned, the Raleigh FD is holding a boot drive for his wife and 2 little girls tommorrow at the Harris Teeter at 9810 Leesville rd from 9 am to 5 pm.

  • tiffanieroan Dec 11, 2009

    I feel bad for the firefighter family and praying for them. Sorry that their love one is gone so soon. But also praying for the bus driver and her family. She is a good person and i work with her.She is a very sweet lady, she did not get out her bed that morning to hurt anyone she got up to go to work to get her kids to school safe. Thing's like this happen everyday and people are sorry.. what is it because she is a bus driver?

  • 1WakeCitizen Dec 11, 2009

    My sincere prayers and deepest sympathies go out to this fine gentleman's family, friends and colleagues. Thank you, sir, for the service and dedication to life safety! May god bless your family during this difficult time.

  • mycatbubba Dec 11, 2009

    I'm thankful he was a man of faith. My husband died as a result of a wreck about 3 1/2 months ago and faith is the main thing that gets me through my days. Randy Alcorn's book Heaven has been a tremendous help. Many, many prayers are going up to the family.

  • mom2threecld Dec 11, 2009

    prayers to the family. this is so sad. i can't imagine the grief this family is enduring right now. may their faith keep them strong.

  • fireguy Dec 11, 2009

    Praying for your Family Brother. We know you'll be looking after the rest of us now...

  • whyalltheproblems Dec 11, 2009

    Exactly two weeks before Christmas, 2 little girls lost their Daddy. How very, very sad.
    Prayers for them and his wife.

    Prayers too for the woman who caused the accident....that is a burden I pray I never have to carry.

    It's an awful, awful situation.

  • vollyfire310 Dec 11, 2009

    We miss you LT. Watch over us up there. We're all praying for your wife, kids and the RFD. God bless.

  • SunnyDays Dec 11, 2009

    To the family; so sorry for your loss. This is such a tragedy. There is never a good time to lose someone, but the holidays are not easy, know that you are in the prayers of many people.