Outside on a Mansfield Fire Department truck, you can find a picture of Justin Sanders next to his firefighting gear.
The community created a memorial for Sanders after he was killed in a crash early Saturday morning.
Area fire agencies are coming in to take over shifts to let Mansfield first responders grieve.
“He loved firefighting, EMS, helping others,” said Calli Murray, a friend to Sanders.
Murray said she and Sanders clicked right off the bat as they both are volunteer firefighters from different departments.
“When one falls, no matter if it’s a different department or job, we all connect,” said Murray. “We all are there for each other.”
According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report, the crash happened Saturday morning around 12:45 a.m. on Business Route 60, south of U.S. 60 in Mansfield.
Mansfield Officer Michael S. Bryson, 39, and Firefighter Justin L. Sanders, 31, were parked on the side of the road when another driver crossed the center line in a pickup truck and ran off the side of the road, hitting Bryson’s vehicle.
Sanders was in the passenger seat and was pronounced dead at the scene by the Wright County coroner. Bryson was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Mercy EMS said Sanders was off-duty and participating in a ride-a-long.
The crash report states the 21-year-old driver of the pickup truck chose to seek his own medical treatment and only had minor injuries. He was arrested on pending charges of driving while intoxicated – death of another person, first-degree assault, careless and imprudent driving and no seat belt.
A Facebook post from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the driver of the pickup truck is Kody Skaggs, who is currently being held in the Wright County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.
“I just want people to know that it’s not okay to drink and drive,” said Murray. “No matter how okay you think you are. Now his parents don’t have a son. I don’t have a best friend. I don’t get to say bye to my best friend.”
Bryson’s family said he is in a lot of pain but doing better. He is upset about losing his friend.