Firefighter falls to her death while working on a rescue station’s roof, NC sheriff says

A 37-year-old firefighter in North Carolina died Tuesday after she fell from a water rescue station, the sheriff’s office said.
A 37-year-old firefighter in North Carolina died Tuesday after she fell from a water rescue station, the sheriff’s office said. Screengrab from Facebook

A firefighter in North Carolina died Tuesday after she fell 15 feet from the roof of a water rescue building, the sheriff’s office said.

Mildred Gray Williams, a 37-year-old firefighter with the White Lake Fire Department, was replacing the metal roofing on the Bladen County Water Rescue Building when she fell 15 feet to her death, according to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is just a shock to the Emergency Services Community,” Nathan Dowless, emergency services director of Bladen County, said in a statement. “Gray was a firefighter and one of us. It’s tough when it’s one of our own, but we will work through this together.”

The sheriff’s office said Williams was working with Youngs Construction in White Lake — roughly 30 miles southeast of Fayetteville — when she fell.

An emergency call was placed at 10:02 a.m. Tuesday, according to the sheriff’s Facebook post. The medical examiner pronounced Williams dead at the scene.

First responders escorted her to the hospital, and ladders from two fire trucks were positioned in an arch over the road with an American flag hanging between them as the processional passed, according to the post.

Sheriff Jim McVicker said the incident has been reported to the N.C. Department of Labor for investigation, as is protocol after a work-related death.

The water rescue station was founded for water rescue and recovery operations on White Lake, according to its Facebook page.

In a post announcing Williams’ death, who is referred to as Gray Thompson Williams Ramsey, the station said she was not in the line of duty when the accident happened.

Instead, the station said was “working on her daily job as most volunteers do.”

But she was a “dedicated member” of both the White Lake Fire Department and Bladen County Water Rescue, according to the post.

One friend on Facebook said Thompson was “always fun to talk to and be around.”

“Every time I saw her, if she wasn’t working she was volunteering or helping do something for the fire department and our community,” he said. “She will be truly missed.”

According to her Facebook page, Thompson was a mother of two, engaged to be married and loved being a firefighter.

“Just lost my best friend in the world,” Joseph Ramsey, who is listed on Facebook as her fiance, said in a post Tuesday afternoon. “I love you baby girl.”

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.