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Bizarre accident kills retired fireman

MILLENNIUM – A bizarre accident Friday night resulted in the death of a well-known retired fireman.

William “Bud” Ray, 76, of Millennium died after his pick-up truck mysteriously caught fire and backed into a ditch on the Hollowell Road (RP 1111) off NC 11.

Ray was a 27-year veteran of the Ahoskie Fire Department, rising to the rank of Captain. He retired on June 30, 1994.

According to a report filed by North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper N.L. Harrison, Ray’s truck somehow caught on fire as it was traveling along the Hollowell Road shortly past 10 p.m. on Friday.

“The truck caught on fire in the roadway and then rolled backwards into a ditch,” Trooper Harrison said. “We do not know how the truck wound-up in the ditch. We do not know if the driver, in a panic, put the truck in reverse or what.”

Trooper Harrison added that Ray received burns to his body as a result of the fire, but could not say if those burns directly caused his death. He said that Ray was out of the vehicle prior to the arrival of emergency responders.

“We do not know if there were other medical conditions that led to his death,” the Trooper said.

Harrison’s report showed that Ray’s vehicle, a 1995 GMC pick-up truck, was traveling east on Hollowell Road at the time of the incident.

“There’s nothing we can see that was wrong with the truck and could have possibly ignited the fire,” Harrison said. “We do not have a clue of how the fire started.”

Funeral services, with full firefighter honors, are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at Ahoskie Free Will Baptist Church.

“We will all miss Captain Bud,” said Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday. “He taught me and many others here at the fire department on what it took to be a firefighter. I could listen to his stories for days on end. He spoke with a lot of wisdom.”