1NEWTON — A West Virginia firefighter was killed when a volunteer fire department’s truck crashed while responding to an emergency call, authorities said.

Mark Horwich died Saturday when the fire truck went off a narrow road en route to a structure fire in Roane County, the city of Spencer said on Facebook.

The accident happened near the community of Newton. The force of the crash crushed the cab of the fire truck, according to media sources.

Horwich was a member of the Clover Volunteer Fire Department. Gov. Jim Justice said on Twitter.

It wasn’t known whether other firefighters were on the truck or if anyone else was injured.

“Our volunteer firefighters are some of the most incredible (West Virginians) we have, because they run toward danger to protect us — out of the goodness of their hearts,’’ Justice said.

Justice said he and his wife, Cathy, “send our deepest condolences to his family and the entire community.’’

The Roane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the accident, which closed the road for several hours.

“His family, his fire department, and our community is devastated by this sudden tragedy,” said the statement from the city of Spencer. “We are so grateful for our service personnel of all departments and are deeply moved by the loss of fireman Horwich in the line of duty. We acknowledge the danger you put yourselves in when the call for help goes out and appreciate your sacrifice. Again, our sincere condolences and sympathies.’’

Delegate donates

kidney to ailing sister

2HUNTINGTON — A West Virginia delegate had a good excuse for missing the recent start of the legislation session — he was recuperating from surgery after donating a kidney to his sister.

Cabell County Democrat Sean Hornbuckle told news sources that he planned to return to Charleston this week.

Hornbuckle was told by doctors to stay in bed last week as he recovers from the surgery in which he donated a kidney to his sister, Kara Hornbuckle. The legislative session started Wednesday.

“My main concern was being able to help her,’’ Hornbuckle said. “That was the biggest thing. It’s in my nature to help anyway.’’

He said Kara Hornbuckle, who was diagnosed with diabetes at an early age, had been on kidney dialysis for more than two years. Her condition worsened to the point that she required a transplant.  

The surgery was performed Dec. 19 at the University of Kentucky.

Education Dept. won’t require bus seat belts

3CHARLESTON — West Virginia Board of Education members have chosen not to require seat belts be added to state school buses.

The board made the decision last week while reviewing its bus policy, news sources reported. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allows states to choose whether buses have restraints in place for students, though that goes against advice from the National Transportation Safety Board and American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommend them.

West Virginia officials placed the idea of adding enhanced restraints for children under 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds (18 kilograms) before the public at a series of comment sessions in October. The State Department of Education then backtracked and said that was an inadvertent proposal, changing it to just a recommendation ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the newspaper said.

The department defended its decision in a statement saying school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles, pointing to their compartmentalized seats and high energy absorbing seat backs. But in October, the department announced a flaw had been discovered with those seat backs when nearly 400 buses were found to lack the cushioning needed to absorb impacts and prevent injuries in the event of a crash.

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