Off-Duty St. Louis Firefighter Killed in Motorcycle Accident

4:18 PM, Jun 21, 2004   |    comments
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(KSDK) -- The St. Louis Fire Department is in mourning. Pumper and medic units were called to an accident involving a motorcyclist in the Central West End late Saturday night, only to find the victim was one of their own. "It's rough, its rough. It's like you're helpless," says Chuck Bates, a firefighter at Engine Company 32 at Grand and Potomac. Co-workers of 34 year old Marjobo Harrell say they are in shock after he was killed while off duty Saturday night. "He will be missed. He was a very conscientious, professional firefighter," says Vernon Smith, a firefighter at Engine Company 32. Police say Harrell was riding his motorcycle northbound on Skinker at Lindell around 11 p.m. when he clipped another car traveling northbound, and was thrown from the bike. "The rider of the motorcycle was in the street when a Metro Bus which was also traveling northbound apparently the rear of the bus struck the rider of the motorcycle. Unfortunately the motorcyclist was deceased," says Lt. Col. Roy Joachimstaler of the St. Louis Police Department. Firefighters and medics first on the scene quickly realized the victim they were helping was one of their own. "They're total professionals, they're consummate professionals," says Deputy Fire Chief Ralph Break of the St. Louis Fire Department. "But after the fact it sinks in a little bit and we're going to offer critical incident stress debriefing to the crews that responded. But yeah, this morning, we've received some calls that they're kind of shaken up. He was extremely well respected and well liked on this job." Deputy Chief Break says he trained Harrell, who was an 11 year veteran of the department. Colleagues remember him as the ultimate professional, who liked everyone and always has a ready smile. "It's hard because you know in a fire situation you can depend on each other. In a stressful situation, you can help each other out. In a situation like this, it's just, we're helpless you know. No one there to watch his back," says Bates. Now black crepe hangs at fire houses across the city. At Engine Company 32, Firefighter Harrell's locker stands untouched, his equipment still inside. His colleagues say they'll rely on each other as they deal with their loss. "I know he's looking down on us and o.k. still when that alarm hits, you've got to go he just won't be with us but he'll always be in our minds," says Bates. Funeral service for Firefighter Harrell are still pending.

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