A 21-year-old volunteer firefighter crashed in her car on her way to a call and died before most people had started opening presents.
Natalie N. Dempsey was racing to the scene of a house fire in Hamilton Township, New Jersey around 6:20 a.m. on Dec. 25. She lost control of her black 2001 Honda Accord and hit a guardrail, sustaining fatal injuries.
When members of the rest of her firefighting crew passed a wreck on the way home from extinguishing the house fire, they stopped to assist the Hamilton Township Police who were already on the scene. That was when they learned they had lost one of their own.
Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jay Davenport told NJ.com that when he realized who it was who had crashed and died, it “smashed my heart out.”
We want to thank our sister fire company Mays Landing Fire Department for everything they did. Thank you guys again it just shows how much love our township has to give at a time like this????
Dempsey was vice-president of Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company 18-2, where she had served as an active firefighter for three years. Mizpah is a small town located about 25 miles west of Atlantic City.
She had recently passed her Firefighter 1 certification test, but her hope was to move on to serve her community in another capacity.
Dempsey had hoped to become a police officer. She had attended the Police Academy over the summer.
The fire company posted an announcement on Facebook to honor their fallen comrade.
“At this time the Mizpah Fire Company has to announce the passing of Firefighter/Vice President Natalie Dempsey. Please keep her family in your prayers,” the post sated.
“We will keep you all updated on any funeral arrangements. This will be a funeral with full honors due to it being a line of duty passing.”
‘Thanks For Your Service. We’ll Take it From Here’
Her fellow firefighters at Mays landing Fire department also shared their sorrow on Facebook.
“It is with great sadness that the Mays Landing Fire Department has learned of the untimely line of duty passing of a firefighter with one of our sister companies at Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company 18-2 this morning,” the post read.
“To our brothers and sisters at Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company 18-2 we stand with you and we mourn with you during this dark hour. Natalie Dempsey was a vibrant young firefighter who always had a smile on her face, and she will be greatly missed.
“Please join us in extending our thoughts and prayers to Ms. Dempsey’s family as well as to her firehouse family during this tough time.
“Natalie Dempsey, thank you for your service; we’ll take it from here.”
Chief Davenport told NJ.com, “She was one of the most beautiful-souled people you could imagine.
“The world was lollypops and rainbows for that girl. Her smile can light up the room.”
Dempsey leaves behind a grieving family, friends, and a boyfriend who exchanged text with her a few hours before her death.
”I have a tradition by myself that I watch the first episode of a Christmas Story and I told her that,” her boyfriend Andy told ABC News.
“She texted me around 1 a.m. saying she loved me and then she wished me a Merry Christmas.
“I never got to text her back because I was sleeping.”