Local News

Raleigh fire captain 'much admired'

Posted December 21, 2011 4:21 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2011 5:55 p.m. EST

— 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.

"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.

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.