By Joe Holden
LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (KYW) — Friends and coworkers are remembering a fallen firefighter who died this weekend in the line of duty. The chief of the Lower Merion Township Fire Department says the Belmont Hills is out of service for the time being.
The fire service lost a man with an unquestionable work ethic and a memorable smile.
“He was just a nice guy, fun guy. He always had a smile on his face, nothing bothered him,” Lower Merion Township Fire Chief Chas McGarvey said.
Tom Royds spent the last 32 years responding to calls in Lower Merion Township. The single father was also a captain with the Clifton Heights department.
His sudden line of duty death early Saturday sent shockwaves through the emergency services community — one already reeling from the sudden death of Firefighter Sean DeMunyck earlier this month.
“Truly dedicated individual who gave himself more than a lot of other people do. We need more people like that in our fire service here,” McGarvey said.
Royds drove the fire truck to Saturday morning’s call on the Schuylkill Expressway. He and his crew were assisting state police when investigators say a woman named Jacquelyn Walker crashed into them.
In statements to detectives, it’s alleged Walker confessed to drinking and driving, apparently telling police she was lost and thought she was on Interstate 295.
Police say they recovered a bottle of rum from her car.
Two other firefighters remain in the hospital with injuries described to be significant.
Paula Flowers met Royds where the two worked at a landscaping firm. She says the world could use more Tom Royds.
“The world needs more Toms. Heaven gained an angel,” Flowers said.
According to McGarvey, Royds discussed what his final wishes would be with his family just a few weeks ago. He wishes to be cremated and that one big party follows.
There will be a public viewing for Royds Saturday morning at Lower Merion High School.
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