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Easter Morning Tragedy

One firefighter killed, one transported with injuries in wreck at Springdale Drive and Willard Road, on Easter morning


A Laurens County/part-time City of Clinton firefighter has died after ejection from a fire engine responding to a call and colliding with a car, at an intersection near Clinton High School, on Easter morning.

The City identified the deceased firefighter as Michael "Mike Mike" Vinson of Laurens.

A Facebook post said he and 3 other firefighters were at a sunrise service just hours before the fatal accident.

Reports said firefighter, Nate Hall, was transported to a Spartanburg hospital; there was no immediate word about the driver of a Lexus that collided with the firetruck , causing it to roll over the front lawn of the National Guard Armory.

No word yet on criminal charges.

Fox Carolina said the City of Clinton issued a statement:  "With a heavy heart, the City of Clinton, SC regrets to announce the Line of  Duty death of one of their firefighters, Michael 'Mike Mike' Vinson. The City of Clinton Fire Deparment  Engine 1202 was responding to a call for service around 11 o'clock today (Easter Sunday, March 31) when it was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The occupant of the other vehicle was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The second Clinton Firefighter that was in the truck was flown to Spartanburg Regional Hospital for treatment. The SC Highway Patrol MAIT Team is currently investigating the accident.

"The City of Clinton asks you to keep all parties involved in your thoughts and prayers. Further details will be released when available."

Only Fox Carolina was reporting the statement. About 12 hours after the wreck it was not posted yet on the City's Facebook page.

Reports indicate that Vinson was the driver and Hall was the passenger.

Laurens County Fire Service Director Greg Lindley posted, "I have tried putting into words what I want to say but every time I start I have to stop. The phone call I got today is one that no chief ever wants to get. Today the City of Clinton Fire Department and the Laurens County Fire Department lost one of our own. Firefighter Michael Vinson was one of the  most hardworking and dedicated firefighters that I have ever seen. Mike Mike never complained and did whatever he was asked to do. He loved his job and he loved helping people. Please keep his family and his fire department family in your thoughts and prayers."

A prayer service will be held Monday, noon at the MS Bailey Municipal Building for Vinson and Hall, and Laurens County's first responders.

First Response Departments and Cities throughout South Carolina expressed their thoughts and prayers for Clinton and Laurens County.

A Laurens County Advertiser article said the fire truck was T-boned by the other vehicle; the fire truck rolled over. It said the truck was responding to a call at the BP Station, Hwy 72 and I-26.

Vinson, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Laurens County Coroner's Office has the responsibility of determining manner and cause of death, following an autopsy.   

The article indicates that Vinson and Hall both  are award-winning firefighters from 2023.  With the County Fire Service, Vinson served from Station 21 in the Wattsville community.

Clinton Police Chief Sonny Ledda told The Advertiser, "We got assistance from Laurens County Fire Service, Laurens County Sheriff's Office was there, City of Laurens police and fire responded, and we even got calls from as far away as Columbia to see how they cold help because they knew traffic was going to be a problem."

The chief traffic was affected for about 2 hours. No school traffic was involved since it was Sunday and the middele of a two-week Spring Break.

There is a traffic light at this intersection.

Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds posted, "My sincere thoughts and deepest condolences to Clinton Fire Department and Laurens County Fire during this difficult time. My prayers are with all affected. May God comfort you in the days ahead."

It was an honor to serve with these members, and even though I moved on, I still have nothing but respect for those there and a heavy heart right now for them. Prayers for all, especially to the families."

A news report said that the SC Highway Patrol reported that the fire truck was travelling east on Willard Road and the 2006 Lexus was travelling north on Springdale Drive. "East on Willard Road" would indicate that the fire truck was coming from the City's Main Fire Station (which is under renovation) on North Broad Street. The City has a substation on the other end of Springdale Drive (across from the rear of the Clinton YMCA). 

Clinton High School has two entrance-exits at this location - one onto Willard Road/Highway 72 and one onto Springdale Drive, neither have traffic lights.  

Fox Carolina said the crash involved several vehicles including the fire apparatus, but that was the only report indicating more than two vehicles involved.  Photos from the scene show electrical trucks holding up fallen wires at the scene and a crane in the Armory parking lot. The accident scene is across the intersection from Rosemont Cemetery.  This is a very wide intersection - Springdale Drive is a 4-lane highway and, going out from Clinton, this is where Willard Road's 2 lanes expands into Hwy 72's 4 lanes.

The  Clinton Chronicle's Facebook page has 8 postings about this incident, including the announcement of Monday's prayer service.