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Virginia firefighter and vice mayor killed

By Chris Reinolds Kozelle, CNN
  • Two firefighters were killed in a traffic accident on their way to a house fire
  • The fire chief was also vice mayor for Rocky Mount
  • State police officials are investigating the accident

(CNN) -- Residents of the small town of Rocky Mount, Virginia, are in shock Tuesday over the deaths of a longtime city council member -- who's also the fire chief -- and another veteran firefighter.

Fire Chief Posey Dillon and Danny Altice, a volunteer firefighter for 47 years, were killed Monday in a traffic accident on their way to a house fire, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri.

Dillon, who was also the vice mayor of Rocky Mount, was driving when a car struck the firetruck, causing it to flip three times and strike another car. The two men were thrown from the rig and died, police said.

Dillon served on the council from 1980 to 2000 and was reappointed in 2006, Rocky Mount Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins said. Dillon was known to have a good sense of humor, but also was a conservative spender in his city duties, he added. Rocky Mount, south of Roanoke, has a population of about 5,100.

Town Clerk Patricia Keatts said she had worked with Dillon for 20 years.

"It was an honor knowing him," she said.

Hankins said Dillon, a volunteer firefighter for 33 years, "treated the fire department members like they were sons." In addition to the department losing two firefighters, they lost "two very close friends," Hankins added.

Dillon, 59, was born in the area and had recently retired from his job with Appalachian Power. He is survived by his wife, Ann.

"Public safety was always his big thing. He was very concerned that we had a safe community to live in," Hankins said.

CNN's Craig Bell contributed to this report