Firefighter Killed; Run Over by School Bus

October 4, 2010 Updated Oct 4, 2010 at 11:30 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

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October 4, 2010 Updated Oct 4, 2010 at 11:30 PM EDT

A father and volunteer firefighter was struck and killed by a school bus filled with students in Derby Monday morning. Police say Ronald Wattie, 49, of Derby was walking across Route 5 near Revere Drive just before 7:00 a.m. when a school bus filled with Lake Shore district students turned and hit him. "The victim was in the crosswalk. He had the green light as well as the bus," explains Captain Charles Danzi of the Town of Evans Police Department, "The bus was making a left onto Route 5 from Revere and the pedestrian was walking."

"The bus hit him and was dragging him and didn't know he hit him. Someone in a vehicle had to get out of their car to let them know they hit someone," says Matt Murawski, an eyewitness to the accident. It's not clear at this point if the bus driver will face charges. The collision happened when it was still dark outside and the bus driver might not have seen Wattie.

On Monday night the parking lot was nearly full at the Highland Hose fire company where Wattie was a long-time volunteer firefighter. "Tonight was our meeting night so we brought the peer counselors in to talk to the people and give a little stress de-briefing to people," says Highland Hose Chief Robert Trask.

The Highland Hose is only a couple of blocks from the accident scene and the company responded to the emergency call of a pedestrian struck, and one of the responders was Wattie's son who is also a volunteer firefighter. But, there was little Wattie's son or the other responders could do to help the injured man. Wattie was pronounced dead at the hospital. "It's very tough right now," says Trask, "Especially since his son is one of our members also and his daughter is an explorer here."

The police are continuing their investigation into how this happened. Meantime, Wattie's fellow firefighters reflect on the friend they've lost. "Just a super guy," says Trask who had known Wattie for 33 years, "You want to go fishing, he'd be the first to take you fishing. You want to go hunting, he's the guy you go with. Always smiling, always just a very charismatic guy, great guy."