Longtime N.C. firefighter killed in off-duty vehicle collision

Alexio Lattero, a junior firefighter, has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in the death of Greensboro Firefighter Richard Norman Murrell


Annette Ayres
News & Record

BROWNS SUMMIT, N.C. — Firefighter families from Greensboro to Gibsonville are grieving after a fiery car crash Saturday afternoon claimed three lives, including a longtime Greensboro firefighter.

Alexio Lattero, 16, a junior volunteer with Fire District 28 in Gibsonville, was traveling north on N.C. 61 when he lost control of his 2012 Dodge Charger and struck a Jeep Cherokee driven in the opposite direction by Richard Norman Murrell.

The tragic incident occurred around 4:50 p.m. on N.C. 61 near Turner Smith Road in Guilford County, according to the Highway Patrol.

The Charger caught fire, trapping a 15-year-old passenger from Kernersville and Lattero's sister, Anna Shyann Lattero, 26, of Reidsville. Both died at the scene. Authorities have not released the identity of the teenage passenger.

Murrell, 58, a Greensboro firefighter, also died at the scene. His 50-year-old wife, Tonya Renae Morrell, who was in the front seat, suffered life-threatening injuries and was listed in critical but stable condition Monday afternoon at Moses Cone Hospital, according to an update from the Highway Patrol.

The State Highway Patrol Crash Reconstruction Unit determined that the primary contributing factor in the crash was exceeding a safe speed for the conditions of the roadway (rainy and wet), a Highway Patrol spokesperson said by email Monday.

Alexio Lattero, whose injuries also were considered life-threatening, was taken to a hospital after the crash. A spokesperson for the Highway Patrol said Monday afternoon that his condition has improved and he is expected to be released from Moses Cone Hospital soon.

Lattero was charged with three counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, exceeding a safe speed and driving left of center. He has a valid N.C. Graduated Driver's License that has a restriction 17 (limited provisional/level 2 license), authorities said.

A spokesperson for the Highway Patrol said Lattero is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 12 in Greensboro.

Fire District 28 in Gibsonville posted a statement Monday on the district's Facebook page about the young volunteer:

"His family has been long time friends of the department, as well as the community. Alexio is a well respected and active member in the junior program. The department asked for prayers for the family as they deal with the loss of a sister and a friend.

"We also offer condolences to the Murrell family and have been in contact with Greensboro Fire Department officials throughout the incident. Fire District 28 will continue to support the families throughout this tragic time."

In Greensboro, colleagues are remembering Murrell, who joined the Greensboro Fire Department on July 1, 1989.

"Rick worked at Station 5 most of his career and was a firefighter that was looked up to by all of those who worked with him," according to a statement released Sunday by the fire department. " Engineer Murrell was part of the Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) team and was an expert in all of the technical rescue disciplines that are required of this team. He also was deployed as part of the USAR team multiple times across the State of NC and throughout the nation during several natural disasters."

The Murrells' three children are ages 17, 19, and 21. Tonya Murrell is a former Reidsville High School teacher.

"The Fire Department asks that you keep the Murrell family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," fire officials said.

Greensboro Fire Chief Jim Robinson also issued a statement Sunday:

"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Engineer Rick Murrell. Rick was a great husband, awesome father to three amazing children, great firefighter and a dedicated member of our family. We are hurting today as a family."

The Winston-Salem Fire Department posted a message on social media extending thoughts and prayers to the Greensboro Fire Department, City of Greensboro community, the Murrell family, and the victims involved in the tragic accident: "Engineer Rick Murrell will forever be our brother in service."

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(c)2022 the News & Record

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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