WEST UNION, Ill. (WTHI) - An Illinois community is mourning the loss of a firefighter.
Lance Stone died in a car accident on his way to a fire; hoping to save others.
Sunday afternoon, family and friends remembered him at his second home.
Story after story, members of the West Union Fire Department reminisce about days gone by.
Until Saturday, these memories were just brief moments, war stories as they called them. Now they mean so much more.
"We've never lost anyone like this out of the fire department," said Bill Crumrin. "It's just something you don't expect to happen here."
To be a first for Bill says a lot. After all, he's been fire chief here for 37 years. He still remembers when Lance joined the team.
"He got into that because he had a fire himself," remembers Bill. "He wanted to do something to help with those situations."
When Lance joined this small volunteer band of brothers, it wasn't for the glory, and it certainly wasn't for the money; It was about something more.
"Lance was the type of guy, he would do anything he could to help anybody out," said Eugene Miller, a fellow firefighter. "He was more than a firefighter, he was a best friend."
When traveling down these roads, Lance's only thought was getting to the scene as quickly as possible. That's because in every emergency, time is an enemy.
"You try not to get tunnel vision," said Miller. "The first thing that runs through your mind is 'ok, I have to get to the station, I have to get my gear on, and I have to get that truck out that door to go help our community."
In a small community, this tragedy hurts even more. The type of town where everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows everything.
"We do cookouts together, we've been to each other kid's birthday parties, it's just one of those things that you get so close to your brothers and they become family."
While today is about recalling the good times, it's important to remember the calls will still come in, and these guys know Lance will still be there, just in a different role.
"The next call we have, we're going to be thinking about Lance," said Miller, "and I pray to god that he's my angel the next time I have to go do my job."
Lance Stone leaves behind a wife and five children.
The West Union Fire Department is discussing ways to honor Lance.
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