WHITE HOUSE STATION, N.J. - Firefighters from two states packed into a western New Jersey church Tuesday morning to remember a volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty.
In a job full of sacrifice, it's the one a fire chief never hopes to make.
"Everyone is just devastated over this, and we've only begun," said Chief John Rathborne of the Readington Volunteer Fire Company. "I don't even believe that it's hit us totally."
Hundreds of fire and emergency workers from across New Jersey and Pennsylvania gathered to remember Jeff Scheuerer at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Whitehouse Station, Hunterdon Co. Most never even met Scheuerer.
"He would be overwhelmed," said Readington Assistant Chief Ken Apsley.
The two decade veteran firefighter was hit by a car last Thursday, while working a controlled burn with the state forestry service in Clinton Twp. Authorities believe shifting winds may have limited the driver's visibility.
For those who attended Scheuerer's funeral, it was a stunning reminder of the dangers of this job.
"It's something that gets pushed into the back of everybody's minds," said Rathborne. "It's always there, but you kind of tend not to think about it."
Those who knew Scheuerer best said he was simply a quiet guy who loved the job.
"To get a word out of him, it was really difficult, and a smile too, sometimes," said Apsley.
But Lifelong friend Fran Scanlon said there was a playful side to Scheuerer.
"Yeah, if you knew him, he was a little more rowdier, but I won't say nothing about that," he said with a laugh.
Apsley added: "But when you did make him laugh, it was like, everybody was like, 'Yeah, right!'"
Scheuerer was 35. He joined this department when he was just 16 years old.
"Everybody knew him as a kid and watched him grow up," said Rathborne.
The day ended where Jeff Scheuerer felt most of home, the Readington Fire House.
"It was part of his life, is what it was," said Apsley.
A quiet tribute to a quiet hero.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley 69 News