WEATHERFORD, Texas - A firefighter from Weatherford in Parker County died over the weekend.
Richard “Andy” Loller Jr. suffered a medical emergency on the scene of a wildfire 150 miles southwest of Odessa. He died while being flown to the hospital.
"We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Andy's passing," said Weatherford City Manager Sharon Hayes. "He will be sorely missed by the community and all who knew and worked with him. Our prayers are with his family at this time."
Loller’s body was escorted from Odessa to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office. His wife made the trip with the fire chief and other departments that joined the escort along the way.
Dozens of firefighters, city employees, and citizens stood on bridges overlooking the procession that took Loller to the examiner's office. Fire trucks from several North Texas departments raised American flags in honor of him.
"He was a fantastic brother and family man,” said Weatherford Assistant Fire Chief Jonathan Peacock. “He was one of the best instructors we had. He loved his job."
Loller was one of two firefighters from the Weatherford Fire Department sent to help a state fire task force help fight wildfires in the Davis Mountains.
“You deal with a lot of terrain. You have to cover a lot of terrain fast — whether in a vehicle or as they were doing that day on foot,” Peacock said. It’s very strenuous activity."
The fire department says Loller had a medical emergency. He was stabilized before he was flown off the mountain but died on the way to a hospital in Odessa.
The fire truck from Loller's station 36 is being washed for the days that are ahead. Other fire departments have stepped up to fill in while Weatherford firefighters grieve.
The Weatherford Fire Department has about 60 members. Everyone knows each other, and everyone knew Loller.
"It was tragic,” Peacock said. “It’s just the same as if it was a family member."
The 42-year-old was a firefighter for more than a dozen years and is survived by his wife and two children. He was a firefighter for 13 years.
The fire has scorched more than 2,400 acres in West Texas since it started six days ago.