A 23-year-old Ross Twp. firefighter died Monday night in a motorcycle crash.
Brandon Sparks of Millville-Oxford Road was killed in a crash that happened shortly before 11 p.m. on Stillwell Road in Reily Twp.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden passing of one of our firefighters last night while off-duty,” the fire department said on Facebook. “Brandon Sparks joined Ross Township Fire Department as an Explorer while in high school and was hired as a part-time firefighter/EMT after graduation. He recently celebrated his five-year anniversary with the department. You will be missed tremendously and loved forever by all of us. Once arrangements are made we will post them.”
Assistant Fire Chief Chris Johns said he heard the dispatch call for the crash Monday. When he got there, he learned the victim was a five-year firefighter and EMT.
"It's hard when we see this stuff, and it's someone we don't know," Johns said. "It's even harder when it's one of us."
According to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office crash report, Sparks was traveling east in the 5600 block of Stillwell attempting to negotiate a curve on his Harley Davidson when the motorcycle went off the right side of the road, striking a fence, an embankment, then spun 180 degrees, coming to rest against a tree.
“He was just such a good kid,” said Ross Twp. Fire Chief Steve Miller. “He started with us when he was about 15 in our Fire Explorer program and his dad was a former Ross Twp. firefighter, so he was following in his dad’s footsteps. He was just so eager and enthusiastic.”
Johns said he laid out Sparks' fire helmet alongside a picture of the man he said he will miss.
"Great kid — kind of quiet until you got to know him," Johns said. "He was on my shift, I was with him every day I worked. He was just like one of my kids. I have kids that age."
Miller said Sparks leaves behind two “beautiful little kids.”
‘He was a great father. It is just heart-wrenching,” Miller said.
For a fire department of nearly 40 full- and part-time firefighters and EMTs, Johns said the loss hits too close to home.
"[I] miss him," Johns said. "He was a great firefighter, a great EMT...just watched him grow up the last five years. He had a bright future ahead of him."
Funeral arrangements will be made on the fire department's Facebook page.