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By Paul Chasko

On September 13, 1964, while responding to assist at a fire at the Old Country Store in Hill Station, the Finleyville fire truck carrying a crew of nine firefighters went off the road and rolled on a bend on Bebout Road in Peters Township.

Pictured are Charles (Scotty) Crayton (left) and William Rellis – the two remaining survivors of the accident.

 Three firemen - Arvin Kegel, John Stark and Roy Simmons - lost their lives. The remainder of the crew - Charles (Scotty) Crayton, Ross Garbart, William Rellis, Edward Hoppa, John Smith, and Breiner Porter - survived the accident but sustained injuries ranging from minor to life-changing. This was the most tragic incident to ever occur in this small Washington County community. It forever changed the lives of the survivors and the family members of the deceased.

On September 14th, an open memorial service commemorating the 50th anniversary of this tragedy was held in the Finleyville Presbyterian Church. The church was filled to capacity with active and inactive firefighters, many in uniform, family members, and friends of the victims. Two notable attendees were Charles (Scotty) Crayton and William Rellis – the last two living survivors of the accident.

Pastor Kevin Young spoke of the accident and its impact – both immediate and thereafter. He also spoke of the two communities involved – the close-knit community of Finleyville and the larger community of firefighters throughout the state and nation who mourned this loss. He spoke of the sacrifices continually being made by emergency responders throughout the nation. A luncheon was held after the service in the FVFD social hall.

A well-attended memorial mass was also offered up at Saint Francis of Assisi Church for Arvin Kegel, John Stark and Roy

Reverend Benjamin Scott plays the pipes at the memorial service.

Simmons on Saturday, September 20th.




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