Jackson Heights Firefighter Jalen Smith, 20, of Tyler, died Monday from injuries he suffered Friday when the vehicle he was in rolled several times after the driver tried to avoid a collision. Officials said he and two other firefighters were on their way to the station to respond to a car wreck in their service district.
Smith was a volunteer firefighter with the department since September 2011 and was expected to be named the department’s firefighter of the year later this month, Chief Terence Thompson said. The department anticipated sending him to be trained to become a certified firefighter in 2013.
“He was the one who would answer calls when no one else would,” Thompson said. “He would leave football games to come out. He went above and beyond the call of duty.”
A second public viewing will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday in the Green Acres Baptist Church chapel, 1607 Troup Highway. The traditional firefighter funeral service will begin at 1 p.m.
Officials are expecting a large funeral procession with numerous emergency vehicles to be in the procession, which is expected to leave between 2:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday.
The procession will start on Fifth Street in Tyler, which changes to Texas Highway 64 East, through Chapel Hill and the Arp area, to the Ashbury Cemetery in Overton.
Officials are asking the public to expect traffic delays while the procession is en route.
Thompson said Smith was respectful and loved by everyone.
After the news of his death, other area firefighter stations stepped up to cover the department’s district to help their brothers in their time of loss. Thompson said he expects the department to resume operation at 8 a.m. Monday.
A memorial fund has been set up at Austin Bank on Smith’s behalf. Donations may be made at any location under the name Jackson Heights Volunteer Fire Department account for Jalen Smith.