Name:  Vernon L Thompson

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Firefighter Vernon Lee Thompson, 28, was killed and Firefighter Willis Edward (Billy) Henderson, 32, was injured when their 4,200-gallon, tractor-drawn tanker overturned near Meredith College on June 16, 1960. The accident occurred about 10:00 a.m., while they were turning from US 1 onto a service road that ran between college property and the State College animal husbandry farm. Both were thrown from the open-cab vehicle. Thompson was pinned under the cab and died after gasoline leaking from the fuel tank under the seat was apparently ignited by an electrical short. Raleigh firefighters and other rescue workers spent nearly two hours recovering Thompson’s body. The first wrecker sent to the scene was unable to raise the truck. A larger, second wrecker was called and lifted the cab enough for Thompson’s body to be removed. Both Thompson and Henderson were state employees working at nearby Camp Polk prison farm and were en route to extinguish the rekindling of a trash fire near the prison dump from the night before. Henderson was driving about 15 miles an hour when the accident occurred. Pavement markings stretched about 120 feet, created by the pressure of the heavy, slowing truck. The cab of the tanker was destroyed; the apparatus was not returned to service. Funeral services were held on June 18 at Cary Baptist Church, with burial at Cary Cemetery the same day. Thompson was a volunteer member of the Cary Fire Department.

Friday, December 31st, 2010

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