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Firefighter killed in fall

Chris Dorst
A man uses a metal detector to look for the cell phone of volunteer firefighter Joey King, who fell from the Steven Wayne Smith Memorial Bridge over the Big Coal River on U.S. 119 early Sunday morning.
Chris Dorst A black wreath and black bunting hang from the side of the station of the Davis Creek Ruthdale Volunteer Fire Department during a press conference Sunday afternoon. Arietta King, the sister of Joey King, who fell to his death from a bridge, is seated at the table on the far left.

DAVIS CREEK, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County volunteer firefighter was killed early Sunday morning after he fell from a bridge.

Joey King, 61, of the Davis Creek Ruthdale Volunteer Fire Department, died around 2 a.m. Sunday after a fall from the Steven Wayne Smith Memorial Bridge in the Alum Creek area.

A crew from the fire department responded to a call of a fire involving a large pile of railroad ties in the area of Corridor G when the incident occurred, Capt. Matt Lively of the volunteer fire department said at a news conference Sunday afternoon at the fire station. The crew had stopped on the bridge in an attempt to locate the fire.

The cause of the fall has not been determined and is under investigation, Lively said, adding that more information will be released as it becomes available.

"It's really hard to describe Mr. King in words," Lively said. "You won't find a more dedicated and caring person. [He] truly cared about the fire department and more so about the members of the fire department and the community it protects."

Lively requested prayer for King's family.

King, a seven-year member of the fire department, had retired from the city of Charleston, his sister, Arietta King, told reporters. He was a father of two.

"He was always there when you needed him," King said of her brother. "You'd call him and he'd be there."

King grew up on the West Side of Charleston but had lived in Davis Creek for around 30 years, she said.

Services have not been scheduled but King said the funeral will be at Cunningham Parker Johnson Funeral Home.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper expressed sadness for King's loss.

"It's just a real sad thing," Carper said. "I've known him since the '70s.

"He was a well-respected, well-trained and well-known firefighter. The emergency community is absolutely devastated. He was out doing what he loved, serving the community. We do not appreciate firefighters until something like this happens."

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office, West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office and the West Virginia State Medical Examiner are investigating the incident, Lively said.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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