Volunteer firefighter dies in Davidson County crash, driver charged

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Highway Patrol Troopers say a man was killed Sunday in a weather-related wreck on Highway 47 in Davidson County.

A spokeswoman with the State Highway Patrol says a 2003 Ford pickup truck was headed west on the highway south of Lexington around 4 p.m. when the driver lost control, crossed the center line and hit a 1993 Oldsmobile sedan that was headed east.

Matthew Charles Bailey, 24, of Lexington, was driving the Oldsmobile. He died at the scene, the spokeswoman said. The victim was a volunteer firefighter.

Sgt. Stephen Pace said he believes the truck hydroplaned.  The spokeswoman says the truck was driven by 30-year-old Nicholas Daniel Antonucci of Lexington.

Pace said Antonucci was arrested at the scene.  He is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, exceeding a safe speed for the conditions, unsafe tires and crossing the center line.

A Highway Patrol spokeswoman  said both drivers were wearing seatbelts.  The speed limit in the area is 55 mph, and Troopers tell Fox8 the original speed of travel was 55 mph.  The speed at impact was 45 mph, according to the incident report.

"As I pulled up I seen the car and I said, no no, that's not him." Fire Chief Darren Kirkus arrived at the scene Sunday just after the wreck and immediately knew it was not a routine call.

"I could tell by the look on John's face. I knew what was wrong. It's different. When it's one of your own," Kirkus said slowly.

Captain John Pate was the first from Station 46 on the scene. "I could tell by the voices on the radio. It's like we are all brothers here," he explained.

Captain Pate said Matt just started a new job and wanted to be a career firefighter. He loved bringing his four-month-old son to the station to visit. "He would just walk around with the baby and show him all the trucks. He was always smiling with his son," Pate added.

Now those same trucks will carry Bailey's body to the burial site this week, they said.

Fellow firefighter Patrick Young pointed out, "We can sit here and carry his memories. Get back on the truck. Do it again. Try to save the ones that we can."

"Keep telling myself I just gotta remember to smile. Cuz he always had a smile," concluded Pate. "If you'd ever met him, he left an impression on you."

Bailey's family is still planning the details of the funeral service.

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