by Lisa Tome
Fire engines and ambulances from Havre de Grace, Oxford, Pa., Port Deposit and others sat outside Perryville Fire Company's Route 7 station on Sunday.
Crews from other stations flocked to Perryville to offer support following the death of a life member of the fire company.
Brian Williams, 51, a current Board of Director and 31 year member of the company was pronounced dead on Sunday on I-95 northbound near Route 222.
But Williams, of Perryville wasn't volunteering with the fire company when he was killed. Williams was a tow truck driver, a job friends said he loved, for nearly 20 years. Williams, a retired Baltimore County firefighter, worked part time for Collette's Service Center of Perryville.
Members of the fire company where he volunteered, worked at the scene following the crash.
Maryland State Police JFK Highway Barrack is investigating the fatal collision which occurred about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, July 9. Police reported that for unknown reasons, Eric Schlerf, 37, of Bel Air, lost control of his vehicle on I-95 near Perryville. Schlerf struck a tow truck, a Chevrolet Camaro, and Williams, who was preparing to tow the Camaro, which was disabled along the highway.
Fire company president John Jones, said that Williams was an active member of the company. In addition to currently serving on the board of directors, he had been chief engineer, lieutenant and ambulance captain. "He did just about everything," said John Jones.
"We're close knit with Collette's. Several of our members work for them," said John Jones.
This loss come in the wake of the loss of Captain David Barr, Jr. a fire police officer with the company. Barr was struck and killed following a crash on Route 40 in 2013.
"My phone has been blowing up with people who support us. You think you'd get used to this, but you don't," he said. "Our young firefighters weren't around when (Captain Barr) was killed. This is all new for them."
John Jones also said that Williams was a member whom he could count on. "He said he would chair the shrimp feast for us. It was the first we had in a long time and he stepped up to chair it," said President Jones.
"This is a major loss," said both Jones', who are father and son.
Fire company apparatus and a Perryville Police Department car escorted Williams' body to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.
Chief Jones and President Jones also said that working along the highway is more dangerous than going into a burning building.
"We can't stress the Move Over law enough. The highway is the most dangerous place to be. We as the fire company have new techniques for responding to calls on the highway. We take an extra blocking piece. But sometimes, it's not enough. One distracted driver is all it takes," said Chief Jones.
Williams lived a life of service. He retired from Baltimore Fire Department in 2016 with 28 years of service as an EMT, firefighter, and also served that department for 17 years as administrative duty officer.
Perryville Mayor Jim Eberhardt spent Sunday morning at the fire company, offering support. "It's clear that in small communities volunteers make things happen, no one more so than the fire company," said Mayor Eberhardt.
Crisis management counselors were also at the fire house, hoping those in need of support cope with the loss.
"I've known him for a long time. We were volunteers together and we did things together socially. He paid my dues every year at Perryville (fire company). I will miss him," said Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome, Sr., who is also a division chief with Baltimore County Fire Department.
Tome also said that drivers need to remain diligent and pay attention and that the Move Over law is in place for a reason - to protect fire responders and tow truck drivers.
Maryland State Trooper Brad McGuirk worked with Williams at Collette's and is also a long time friend. "I knew him since I was 14. When I got interested in the fire company, I used to see him and (Williams' brother) Barry go by my house to calls. He was also a personal friend. He came to my house and helped build my deck, finish my basement. He'd stop what he was doing to help you," said McGuirk. "He started the chapter of the Red Knights (fire company motorcycle club) for Cecil and Harford County. We were connected through so many different areas of our lives. This is all still like a nightmare."
Williams is survived by his wife, Kerri, and step-daughter Emily Wood and his siblings. Williams was also a race car enthusiast.
The fatal accident snarled area traffic for hours, causing major delays on local roads.