Todd Hage

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  • "I know it has been almost 4 years since the death of Todd..."
    - Molly MacLaren-Rockett
  • "Dear Laura and Marv, My heart breaks for you. Todd is at..."
    - Ellen Gregory
  • "To All of the Hage Family, There are no words to express..."
    - Gail (Worth) & Ken Merchant
  • "I was so saddened and shocked to hear of Todd's accident..."
    - Barbara Boyd Yosaitis
  • "To the Hage Family, Our thoughts and prayers go out to you..."
    - Keith McGaha Family

A volunteer firefighter from Wesley Chapel died Saturday afternoon when the firetruck he was driving flipped over on Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road in Union County.

Todd Hage, 43, died instantly, said spokesman Rob Brisley of the Charlotte Fire Department. Hage was the only person in the truck. Wesley Chapel firefighters, in a second truck, found him in the vehicle, seconds after the rollover.

The firefighters were on the way to what turned out to be a false alarm at New Town Elementary, which is set to open Aug. 27.

The N.C. Highway Patrol was investigating the accident, and few details were available. Hage was driving an engine that carried water, equipment and other supplies, Brisley said. He didn't know whether any other vehicles were nearby or whether Hage was wearing a seat belt, which is a safety requirement.

Hage had been a firefighter in Wesley Chapel since spring 2006 and was the department's rookie of the year. The Navy veteran leaves behind a wife and two children.

Hage's was the department's first death in the line of duty since it formed in 1975.

"We have far too many questions and not enough answers," said Brisley, who is serving as a liaison for Wesley Chapel.

The last firefighter death in Union was in 1999, when Kenneth Alan Strain of the Hemby Bridge Volunteer Fire Department died while returning from a rescue call. Driving a fire engine alone, Strain edged over on narrow Mill Grove Road to make room for other traffic. A rear wheel slipped off. The firetruck flipped and smashed into a tree.

Strain was the first Union County firefighter to die in the line of duty in 30 years.

On Saturday, Wesley Chapel Chief Terry Byrum spent most of the evening with Hage's family. He said Hage's 12-year-old daughter reacted to the news by saying her father "died doing what he loved."

"We lost a brother today," a teary-eyed Byrum said. "He was a friend to all of us. You can replace a firefighter, but you can't replace a friend."

At 9:30 p.m., while the flag flew at half-staff and things were quiet at Wesley Chapel Fire Station No. 31, about 30 firefighters gathered in a circle and said a prayer.

Funeral arrangements

Arrangements were announced Monday morning for Todd Hage, the Wesley Chapel firefighter who was killed Saturday.

Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Indian Trail, 732 Fairview Road, in Indian Trail. The funeral will be held immediately afterward, at 11:30 a.m.

Following the funeral, a firefighters' procession will proceed to Heritage Funeral and Cremation Services, 3700 Forest Lawn Drive, in Matthews, for burial.

Additional information is available at the Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department Web site -- www.wesleychapelvfd.com.

Published in Charlotte Observer on Aug. 12, 2007