ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Firefighters in the Piedmont Triad are mourning. They lost a friend, a leader and a colleague who motivated them to be their best.

Matt Hall was found on Christmas Day inside his truck, which North Carolina troopers say veered off truck off Bethany Road and hit a tree.

Hall and Ayden Murphy have known each other for eight years and worked closely together. In fact, Hall is the reason Murphy joined the Madison-Rockingham Rescue Squad. The two were supposed to work Christmas Day. Murphy learned of Hall’s death listening to the radio traffic as some of his colleagues worked the scene.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Murphy said. “It hit me like a brick wall. I was at work. I felt helpless.”

Murphy was on call when emergency crews found his best friend’s body around 8:30 a.m. on Christmas. The 31-year-old’s truck hit a tree.

“The scene isn’t one that I would want to be on,” Murphy said. “I’m just thankful that my fellow friends that were there took good care of him.”

Troopers are working to figure out what caused Hall’s truck to leave the road. His friends and colleagues are spending days reflecting on who he was and what he meant to them.

“He was an all-around great individual,” Murphy said. “He was the life of the party. No matter what the situation was, he was always someone you could turn to and talk to.”

Murphy will miss that listening ear and Hall’s advice.

“He would harp on you a little bit, but it was to make you better and to help you learn from your mistakes, and he did it because he cared about you,” he said.

Hall spent 12 years with the Madison-Rockingham Rescue Squad. He also held the role of assistant chief. On Monday, his firefighter family started building and painting a cross they plan to place at the site where Hall took his last breath.

“It felt right, and it was me and multiple other people all wanting to do it,” Murphy said. “A bunch of us here have all put our heads together to build one, spending our time today talking about Matt, remembering him while we build it and put it together.”

An escort of emergency vehicles representing each department where Hall served joined together to bring the fallen firefighter home.

Hall’s gear will hang on the wall at the rescue squad as a reminder to keep pushing to be better every day.

“To all of us down here, he could be a pain in the butt sometimes,” Murphy said. “But deep down, we all knew he cared, and he cared about the organization. He did a lot for us here, and he’s really gonna be missed.”

Hall’s funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday at Dalton L. McMichael High School in Mayodan. Following the service, his friends and colleagues will place the cross they’re building at the scene of the crash.