March 15, 2010

Firefighter missing in flood rescue attempt is identified

By Gary A. Harki

Staff writer

GLASGOW, W.Va. -- Officials have released the name of the Glasgow firefighter swept away while attempting a water rescue early Saturday morning in Raleigh County.

Donald "Donnie" Adkins, 32, was in a rescue boat with Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Blankenship and another firefighter when the boat tipped over about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Blankenship said.

More than 100 people continued to search for Adkins' body on Monday. The area being searched has expanded, he said.

"Donnie was a very loved individual," Blankenship said. "He was just a good all-around person."

The firefighters were attempting a rescue in the Beaver area and had already fought the currents to rescue 11 people in another part of the county, Blankenship said.

The water was up so high that firefighters had to cut through telephone lines to cross the water and reach people in attics and trees, said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.

Adkins was with the Glasgow department for about three years and was a firefighter in Rand before that, Blankenship said.

He had two children and was also like a father to his girlfriend's daughter, Blankenship said. All are between the ages of 5 and 8, he said.

Adkins had lost his job on Friday. He worked in Montgomery for the Capital Resource Agency's weatherization program, said Sandy Singleton, Adkins's aunt.

"He loved [firefighting]," Singleton said. "He was here every day."

Adkins went to DuPont High School, Singleton said. She and another aunt, Sharon Tuck, were on their way to see Adkins' mother, she said. "She's very ill or she would have been here herself," Singleton said.

Area departments have been superb in both helping out with the search and in assisting the department with calls, Blankenship said.

Carper said he wanted to dispel rumors that the rescue wasn't carried out properly.

"They had the appropriate water rescue response," he said. "This is inherently dangerous."

Allen Ford was Adkins' Little League baseball coach. He retired as Glasgow's fire chief about the time Adkins joined the department.

"He was a good ballplayer," Adkins said. "He paid attention."

Ford remembered Adkins trying and trying to hit a home run.

"All he wanted was to hit a home run. He wanted it so bad," Ford said. "He hit the fence twice, but he never got it."

Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

 

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The attachment is a picture of Donald Adkins and his sister, Renee Coleman, in a photo submitted by the Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department.

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