LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The family of Paul Quattlebaum, the Lexington County Fire Service firefighter who died Friday shares their emotions after losing their loved one in the line of duty.
Officials say Quattlebaum died from his injuries after being hit by a semi-truck while on duty.
Cathy Currie and Erin Gunter are Paul Quattlebaum’s first cousins. They describe him as a family man, lover of the outdoors, but above all, a man who dedicated his life to serving others.
“If he ever saw anybody in need, family or not he was going to help them,” Gunter said. “He was the brother that I never had.”
According to the Lexington County Fire Service, Quattlebaum’s unit was sent out to a medical call around 3:30 p.m. Friday when he and his partner noticed a crash near the 5200 block of Fairview Road. Both firefighters stopped to check on those involved in the crash. During that time, officials said Quattlebaum was hit by a semi-truck.
“I heard a horn blowing in my yard and I could hear her screaming my name so I thought she was telling me to just hurry up, I walked outside and she’s just yelling ‘it’s Paul Edwin, it’s Paul Edwin’ come on we gotta get to mammas, I just almost fell out on the porch I instantly broke down crying and screaming no…no…,” Gunter said. “Unfortunately I’ve got anger but I guess to compensate the anger, I know that he died doing what he loved because he loved to help people”
A first responder’s family’s biggest fear, now morning the unimaginable after his death on Friday.
“You know when they get those calls and they walk out that door, you stay awake, it doesn’t matter what time it is because you want to make sure they make it home,” Cathie Currie said.
The family is thankful for the outpour of community support.
“I think he’s going to be remembered as the person as he was,” Gunter said. “A kind, gentle soul, and he will never be forgotten.”
Quattlebaum, a native of Batesburg-Leesville, served the Lexington County Fire Service for 22 years and was most recently based out of Station 27, fire officials said. He began as a volunteer firefighter in 1997 before being brought on full-time in 2000. Quattlebaum was promoted to fire engineer in 2002 and served as a ride-up captain from October 2017 to March 2018.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol is currently investigating the deadly collision that led to Quattlebaum’s death.
The family wants Quattlebaum’s story to remind drivers about the Move Over Law in South Carolina. In South Carolina and many other states, there is a law aimed at protecting first responders and preventing these accidents.
The law aims to protect first responders - from firefighters to police officers to tow truck drivers - but its enforcement is challenging and overall awareness of it is low.
South Carolina’s law states drivers passing an emergency scene need to change lanes away from the scene, if possible, or maintain a safe speed for road conditions if it is not safe to change lanes. Drivers who violate this law are “guilty of the misdemeanor of endangering emergency services personnel” and face fines ranging from $300 to $500.
According to the family, Quattlebaum’s visitation will be held at Barr-Price Funeral Home Batesburg-Leesville Chapel Monday, Oct. 7 from 5 p.m- 8 p.m located at 256 Main Street Leesville, SC 29070.
The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Oct 8. At 4 p.m. at B-L High School Fine Arts Center located at 600 Summerland Ave Batesburg-Leesville SC 29006.
The visitation and funeral service are open to the public.