GASPORT — A beloved member of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Company died in a tragic accident Tuesday night.
Firefighters were assisting with a hay bale fire on Quaker Road in Somerset shortly after 8:30 p.m. and Judy D. Spencer, a volunteer with more than 20 years of experience, was directing a Barker Fire Department rescue vehicle when it backed over her.
Spencer, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“We don’t believe there will be any charges,” Niagara County Sheriff Mike Filicetti said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Hartland fire hall. “I will say, this is a tragic, tragic accident.”
Filicetti was joined at the press event by Hartland Fire Chief Brian Ames and Niagara County Emergency Management Coordinator Jonathan Schultz. A Hartland fire truck was the backdrop and the flag was at half mast.
Schultz said the hay fire was north of Route 18 on the west side of Quaker Road. Fifty or so large round bales were involved. Multiple fire companies helped put it out. Hay and grass fires are common this time of year, he said. The cause remains under investigation.
Ames, the Hartland fire chief, said Spencer was one of the company's most loyal volunteers and was close to the lead in call response. A life member of the company, she began her service there in 1999.
Still reeling from the loss, Ames said, “This is absolutely the worst day.”