Remembering Vernon Smith
Photos, documents, and a family scrapbook about Driver Vernon J. Smith, who died in the line of duty on March 10, 1956. He was forty-four years old and died at Rex Hospital, succumbing to injuries occurred November 14, 1952 while operating Engine 6. The 1926 American LaFrance pumper, being operated as a reserve unit, overturned while returning from a call at the sharp curve where Brooks Avenue turns into Lewis Farm Road. The 1:00 p.m. accident also pinned Captain James T. White under the wreckage and injured the three firefighters hanging onto the tailboard. The accident was blamed on a broken brake lever and the City Council immediately approved funding for a new pumper, to retire the other 1926 reserve pumper as soon as possible. The other firefighters recovered from their injuries, while Smith sustained a fractured skull, a compound fracture of his left leg, and a number of internal injuries. He lost part of his leg and continued to suffer from his injuries. He remained employed by the fire department for a period of time, and worked as a dispatcher. Smith underwent twenty-nine operations before his death four years later. Smith joined the Raleigh Fire Department on July 17, 1942.
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