N.J. firefighter struck by vehicle, killed in line of duty, officials say

Victim was working a controlled burn on Route 629 at time of accident

Author: , Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published: Mar 28 2013 02:39:56 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 29 2013 03:04:22 PM EDT
Jeff Scheuerer
CLINTON TWP., N.J. -

A New Jersey fire department is mourning the loss of one of its brothers following a tragic crash Thursday morning.

The chief of the Readington Volunteer Fire Company said the victim, Jeffrey Scheuerer, worked at the station since he was 17-years-old.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service, of which Scheurer was also a member, was doing routine work on Route 629, in Clinton Twp., Hunterdon Co., Thursday. Scheuerer, 35, was on the crew.

"He has a leadership role with the team," said Chief John Rathborne, Readington Vol. Fire Co. "He was an experienced guy. This was just basically an accident and that's the only way to describe it."

Investigators are still looking at the evidence. The Hunterdon County prosecutor said it appears heavy smoke and a shift in the wind during a controlled burn reduced visibility, and Scheuerer was struck by a vehicle and died.

"Of course, the thought ran across your mind, 'Nah, that can't be it,'" said Rathborne. "It could have just been a pedestrian or somebody walking down the road."

When he got the call Thursday morning, Rathborne said he couldn't believe it.

"It just got worse and worse from there listening to it," added Rathborne. "I tried texting him and didn't get an answer, then didn't get a phone call. From there on, I got a notification a little while later."

Other members of the At the Readington Vol. Fire Co. are leaning on each other for support during this tough time.

"The entire company is devastated. It's a shock that this happen," Rathborne said.

Scheuerer was a self-employed carpenter when he wasn't working at the station.

The Readington Township native spent 18 years as a volunteer firefighter, protecting the community he grew up in.

The front of the building is now draped in bunting and the flag is at half staff. The 30 members of this close knit group said they will miss their friend.

"He was a good guy," added Rathborne. "Everybody liked him. He kept to himself, he was quiet and helped anybody that needed help."

Friends said Jeff Scheuerer was single and his parents live in Georgia, where his brother is also a firefighter.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service website dedicates a page to the memory of firefighters lost in the line of duty since the Forest Fire Service was founded.