Firefighters and paramedics in Bedford County are mourning the loss of one of their own after a deadly car crash over the weekend.
According to police, the crash happened on Interstate 64 in Albemarle County just after 6 a.m. Sunday. A man driving a pickup truck crossed the median and hit a car being driven by 30-year-old Bethany Franklin head-on, according to officials, and both drivers died at the scene.
“Bethany was a beautiful young lady who cared for so many,” Franklin’s family said in a statement. “We could not be more proud of the young woman she became, and she will be dearly missed by her family and community.”
Also grieving are Franklin’s fellow firefighters and paramedics in Bedford County, where she served since 2009. Flags are flying at half staff outside Bedford County Fire and Rescue’s headquarters.
“She cared beyond the call,” said Janet Blankenship, deputy chief of the EMS division.
Franklin’s care for her patients meant more than just taking them to a hospital, said Blankenship, who served as her supervisor.
“She would go back to someone’s house and check on them,” Blankenship said. “And one day it was to give them a glass of water or something to help an elderly person out who couldn’t really get around and help themselves.”
“Bethany had a very kind heart and a great spirit and was probably one of the smartest people that I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet,” said Chief Jack Jones, Jr.
Franklin went back to school to earn a degree in respiratory therapy, Jones said. According to family members, she recently took a position in the pediatric ICU at UVA.
Chief Jones said she always brought comfort to her patients and their families.
“That’s so much of our work,” he said. “So little of it is actually the medications we give and the skills we perform – but actually the putting people at ease and comforting them. And that was a phenomenal attribute that Bethany possesses.”
Franklin also brought comfort to the firefighters and paramedics she served with, Jones said. Now, they’re bringing comfort to each other in her absence as they continue serving the community.
“We do encourage our folks to honor the memory of paramedic/firefighter Bethany Franklin and treat these people the same way they would yesterday and the day before and run the calls the same way and just try to have that living testament,” Jones said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting friends and loved ones make donations in Franklin’s name to a local fire and rescue department.