State honors late firefighter Roy Sewell

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

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From all reports, Roy Sewell Jr. stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the front of the short line of firefighters willing to give all. The family of the late Fire Station Captain is now in possession of an award honoring Sewell’s contributions to his fellow firefighters and to the county he loved.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee along with State Senator Becky Duncan Massey awarded Sewell’s family with the prestigious Three Stars of Tennessee. The award recognizes law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders who are killed or suffer a career-ending injury while in the line of duty.

The 27-year-old captain died on April 24, experiencing his last call alone inside his tanker truck while en route to establish a medical helicopter landing zone. The temporary zone was needed to airlift a nine-year-old boy involved in an ATV crash.

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According to reports from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sewell was traveling along Cedar Fork Road when his engine left the pavement and tumbled down an embankment. The fire truck flipped over, coming to rest upside down.

Shortly after the incident, Sewell’s brother, Matthew, spoke of his sibling.

“Roy truly gave his all to his family first, then (the North Tazewell Volunteer Fire) department. His willingness to serve and heart for his brotherhood and community went unmatched…. We’re all shocked and words are hard to come by, but one thing rings true and it’s that he was doing what he loved.

“Roy spent his entire adult life showing the people around him that no matter what your situation is, there’s always time to smile. He lit up a room like nobody else could.”

David Breeding, Executive Director of the Office of Emergency Management/Homeland Security, spoke of the young fire captain.

“Heroes dwell among us. They come in many forms and one would not always recognize them. Contrary to popular belief they do not wear capes or masks. Our heroes are not chosen; they never believe they are heroes. Our heroes choose a pathway to follow, not for fame and fortune, but the passion that drives them.

“When they are tired, they don’t waiver. When everything appears to be in the darkest hour they hold a light. They are willing to answer the call no matter the circumstances.”

Sewell’s last real radio communication was reportedly “where do you need me?”