Firefighter arrested for speeding to fire call in NC

By Roselee Papandrea
The Times-News

GIBSONVILLE, N.C. — A Gibsonville firefighter arrested last month on his way to an apartment fire no longer faces felony charges, but the district attorney's office won't say whether the traffic offenses he racked up that day will stick.

Gibsonville Fire Assistant Chief Joseph Loy was charged by Elon University campus police on Oct. 9 with flee/elude arrest, which is a felony, as well as speeding, failing to stop at a red light, reckless driving, failing to heed to a light or siren and unsafe passing yellow line.

Loy's daughter, Crystal Thompson, maintains that her father was on his way to a fire the night in question, and she doesn't think he should have been charged at all. The district attorney's office agreed, at least in regard to the flee/elude arrest charge.

Assistant District Attorney Pat Nadolski dismissed the felony charge Oct. 15. His reasoning was "insufficient evidence," according to court records.

"All evidence shows the defendant was acting in his capacity as an assistant volunteer fire chief and was responding to a fire call concerning an apartment fire, that he drove to the Gibsonville Fire Department and stopped his vehicle at the Fire Department to respond to the fire with other Gibsonville firemen," court records state.

Nadolski said he couldn't comment on the other charges. District Attorney Rob Johnson said they will be disposed of in court, which means they could be either dismissed or prosecuted.

Thompson said her father was working at his shop on Haggard Avenue in Elon when the fire call came in at about 10 p.m. Oct. 9. Loy, who has volunteered with the department for more than 36 years, was driving the family's third vehicle at the time, and didn't have the strobe light that he typically turns on when responding to a fire.

Loy put the vehicle's hazard lights on and headed to the Gibsonville Fire Department. Elon University Police Officer J. Tillotson pulled behind Loy on West Haggard Avenue near University Drive. Loy saw the police car behind him and saw the flashing lights, Thompson said.

"He thought it was a cop going to the fire call," Thompson said.

Loy didn't think there was a problem. When he arrived at the Gibsonville Fire Department, he found out otherwise.

"He was getting ready to go on the (fire) truck and was handcuffed and slapped with a felony and five traffic violations," Thompson said. "It's really sad that a cop would do that to a fireman."

Loy is accused of driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. He allegedly passed vehicles in a no-passing zone and went through a red traffic light, according to court records.

Thompson said that Loy tried to explain that he was a firefighter, but the officer allegedly wouldn't listen. Loy was taken to the Alamance County magistrate's office and charged.

"Even at the Police Department and at the Sheriff's Department, he tried to explain," she said. "The cop just wanted to keep throwing charges at him. They never asked him if he needed to call anybody. Luckily, we heard about it because they didn't ever give him a chance."

Elon University Campus Police Chief Chuck Gantos said the case has been handed over to the district attorney's office so he didn't want to comment on it. He did say that "they were pursuing what they thought to be a crime," and he couldn't say any more about until it goes to court. Loy's district court date is Dec. 10.

Attorney Doug Hoy, who is also Gibsonville's town attorney, is representing Loy. Hoy, who said he is Loy's private attorney and isn't representing him on behalf of the town, also said he couldn't comment about the case.

Thompson thinks her father is being treated unfairly.

"His name has been put out there as if he did something wrong," she said. "All he was trying to do is do what a volunteer does and try and help someone. Maybe he was speeding but it was a house fire. No one wants someone's house to burn down."

Copyright 2009 Times-News

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