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Trooper: Volunteer perhaps unseated

GORE -- A Frederick County volunteer firefighter who died in a crash Monday, while responding to a blaze in West Virginia, may not have been restrained in the vehicle when it crashed, a state trooper said Thursday.

Zachary Whitacre, 21, of Pugh Lane, died in a firetruck crash on U.S. 50 near Capon Bridge shortly after 4 a.m., according to Senior Trooper E.V. Vaubel, of the Romney Detachment. His father, Donald Whitacre Jr., 44, also of Pugh Lane, identified as the driver of the 1986 Ford fire tanker, suffered injuries in the crash, Vaubel stated in a news release issued Monday. The Whitacres, both volunteer firefighters with the Gore Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, had responded with other Frederick County crews to assist with a blaze on Timber Ridge Road in Capon Bridge.

While the crash remains under investigation, Vaubel said Thursday it appears Zachary Whitacre rode unrestrained at the rear of the vehicle, possibly standing up while holding on to part of the truck as it went back for water at Capon Bridge. Vaubel said he needs to interview more witnesses who may have seen the firefighter board the truck before the crash. It remains unknown why Zachary Whitacre did not ride in the passenger seat, Vaubel said.

Whether ice on the road blame from the crash came from precipitation or water dripping from firetrucks also remains uncertain, the trooper added.

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