2 local off-duty firefighters killed in ATV accident in West Virginia

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Two off-duty firefighters with the Rowan-Iredell Fire Volunteer Department died in an ATV accident in West Virginia, officials with the town of Cleveland stated Sunday on Facebook.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends,” the post read. “We pray that all find peace and comfort during this difficult time.”

Rowan-Iredell Fire Department lost two firefighters in an ATV accident in WV. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends! We pray that all find peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Posted by Town of Cleveland, North Carolina on Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office also offered their condolences to the families of Daniel Sell and Jacob Steele.

“Their families are a big part of the West Rowan Community. Such a sad situation,” the sheriff’s office said.

It has been a difficult weekend for the community as the U.S. flag was at half-staff on Sunday.

“It’s a blow. Two young men lost their lives it’s terrible,” said Raye Brothers, who coached Sell at West Rowan Middle School.

The accident was on the minds of everyone at Sunday’s softball game at a Cleveland church.

“Here at Cornerstone (Church) we stopped, we heard, we prayed,” said Brothers. “All the teams got together and prayed. It’s close-knit. Everyone here knows the names, pretty much everyone knows these families.”

Brothers coached Sell football and wrestling.

“He was super loyal and dedicated and super disciplined,” Brothers said. “Maybe, that’s where some of it comes from that he wanted to be a fireman.”

Jordan Thorpe was friends with Sell and Steele.

“Two years older than me and we played football together, so we were always at practice together,” Thorpe said. “(We had) been to cookouts together. (Steele) was always fun. It’s pretty tough, yeah. It’s rough to see it.”

Fire officials said they don’t have specific details about what happened because it wasn’t work-related.

The fire department released a statement Sunday afternoon.

“We greatly appreciate the overwhelming community support during this difficult chapter. At this time, we ask for understanding that while this was not a department-related death, we need time to process the loss of our beloved brothers. That said, out of respect to the family, since this incident happened on personal time and we do not know specific details, we will not share any further information. Again, thank you for understanding and giving us the space to allow processing and healing as we mourn this loss in our family. Thank you, Rowan-Iredell Volunteer Department”

No additional details have been made available.

This is a developing story. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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