An East Texas community is preparing to say goodbye and pay tribute to a teenager killed just hours before her high school graduation. 18-year old Allison Ray of Gladewater was killed in a car wreck last Friday.
Ray was a volunteer firefighter in Winona. The Fire Chief there talked to KLTV 7's Courtney Lane about how they are dealing with this devastating loss.
"She was just a good kid," said Chief Nelson Brumley at the Winona Volunteer Fire Department. "She liked helping people, she liked working with kids especially."
Brumley said Allison Ray's passion for helping others and gift of comforting those in times of crisis, made her a top-notch firefighter.
"She'd fight fire, whatever you asked her to do, she'd do it and wouldn't ask. It's just going to be a big loss. She was like part of the family."
Now flags at the department fly at half staff, remembering this young life filled with accomplishment. At just 16, Allison became a junior firefighter, working alongside her mom and stepdad. Then she became full-time.
"It's bad enough losing someone from another department," said Brumley. "You feel bad for them anyway but when it's this close to home, it really makes a difference. It really makes you step back and think."
Brumley said Allison just left graduation rehearsal last Friday when she overcorrected on county road 3111, just outside Gladewater.
"She was going to stop at the house and get her fire department uniform, which, she was going to wear it to the graduation," said Brumley.
Excited to start her career, Allison loved showing and teaching children about her passion as volunteer firefighter.
"I feel God has her in heaven working with kids. If I could sit back and look right now, that's exactly where she's at. She's in heaven teaching kids about firefighters and what they do and at the same time when all the firefighters leave here and go to Heaven, I have a feeling she's there to comfort them and help them out and support them like she did when she was here."
But for the firefighters left behind, work must go on, with Allison close by in their hearts.
Chief Brumley said their brand new fire truck is being dedicated in Allison's memory. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday morning in Gladewater, where many East Texas firefighters will be present.