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Pa. firefighter dies after being hit by drunk driver

Firefighter Thomas Royds, 49, was killed, and two other firefighters and a state trooper were injured when struck at crash scene

royds lower merion.jpg

Firefighter Thomas Royds, 49, was killed, and two other firefighters and a state trooper were injured when struck while responding to a vehicle crash.

Photo/Lower Merion Fire Department

Duty Death: Thomas Royds - [Lower Merion Township]

End of Service: 24/07/2021

By Jessie Forand

LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, firefighter was killed in a drunk-driving crash Saturday.

Thomas Royds, 49, died after responding to a prior DUI crash scene at around 3:15 a.m.

He was a volunteer with the departments in Belmont Hills and Clifton Heights, and was a paid firefighter with the Union Fire Association.

According to 6 ABC, Royds’ grandfather was a founding member of the Belmont Hills Fire Company, for which Royds was responding when he was killed.

Two other firefighters and a state trooper were injured in the incident, 6 ABC reported.

At the original crash scene, 6 ABC said another vehicle drove up the road’s right-hand shoulder, hitting the four first responders, including Royds, who died from his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Jacquelyn Walker, of New Jersey, is facing charges of vehicular homicide.

According to CBSN Philly, Walker, 63, was drinking behind the wheel of her car. She was heard outside her vehicle at the scene saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” court records show. An arrest affidavit claimed she smelled like alcohol and was slurring her words.

An officer at the scene saw her pour out a “brown liquid.” An empty rum bottle was found in her Jeep, CBSN reported. Arrest records show Walker bought rum earlier.

Walker claimed her breaks weren’t working.

Chief James Hornung said the incident was, “Truly a tragedy.”

In April, Pennsylvania lawmakers put in place a “Move Over Law” aimed to protect first responders.

The law says drivers must move into the left lane when approaching emergency scenes and slow down to 20 mph the posted speed limit.

NBC 10 reported that drivers who fail to follow the new rules face fines and license suspension.

This tragedy comes just weeks after Lower Merion Fire Department’s Sean DeMuynck died in the line of duty on July 4.

Lower Merion is the larger umbrella department under which Belmont Hills operates, 6 ABC reported.

“When we see these signs, it will be bittersweet. It’s a reminder of the loss — not that we ever forget it — but it also lets us know that the communities won’t forget him,” Peyton Morse’s father said
Family members and fellow firefighters remembered Andrew “Drew” Price as warm, adventurous and a frequent prankster
EMT Frederick D. Whiteside, 43, was a veteran of 22 years at the FDNY
Firefighter/paramedic Brian Herr joined the department in March 2023 after relocating to Florida from Chicago