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Firefighters mourn one of their own following fatal Canton crash

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CANTON — Morley Volunteer Fire Department crews responded to a fatal car crash Tuesday to find a colleague in the wreckage.

Thomas T. Butterfield, 51, a firefighter and member of the department’s fire police, was killed when a car driven by his father, Theron H. Butterfield, 81, slid sideways into the path of another vehicle on Morley-Potsdam Road, state police said.

“It was rough,” firefighter and emergency medical technician Michael L. Berger said. “It’s always tough when it’s one of your own.”

Thomas Butterfield, Canton, died at the scene, while his father, a Potsdam resident, was taken to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, where he died of his injuries, troopers said.

The 4:30 p.m. fatal crash was followed hours later by another collision on Morley-Potsdam Road that left two people injured, St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies said.

In the 9:09 p.m. crash, John G. Kramer, 73, Canton, was traveling northwest when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed into the oncoming lane, striking a vehicle driven by Nicholas J. Deon, 26, of Norwood, deputies said.

Mr. Kramer and an unnamed passenger in his vehicle were treated at Canton-Potsdam Hospital for minor injuries, deputies said, and there were no other injuries.

In the first crash, troopers said the elder Mr. Butterfield was driving west on Morley-Potsdam Road when he lost control of his 1998 Chevrolet and slid into the path of an eastbound 2003 Dodge pickup truck driven by Larry A. Felt, 48, Canton.

The vehicle was struck on the passenger side, where the younger Mr. Butterfield was sitting, according to a release from state police.

Mr. Felt was not injured.

Canton Fire & Rescue and Morley Fire Department responded to the scene, which was still fresh in the minds of Mr. Butterfield’s fellow firefighters Wednesday afternoon.

His turnout gear and black crepe hung on the grille of one of Morley’s fire engines as members stood in the firehouse fondly remembering a man who had spent more than two decades as a firefighter.

“He was a good guy,” Morley Fire Chief Michael S. Perkins said of Mr. Butterfield, who had joined the Morley department in 2009 but had a long history with other departments — including West Potsdam, where his father was a charter member.

“He’d do anything you asked him to do,” Chief Perkins, 24, said of the family friend whom he had always known as a firefighter. “If you told him to stand out on the corner for four hours and direct traffic, he would do it.”

Members of the department will send vehicles and an honor guard to participate in the Butterfields’ funeral, firefighters said.

Arrangements were still pending Wednesday night, according to an obituary notice.

Mr. Berger, an EMT with 17 years of experience with several north country departments, said Tuesday’s accident marked the 11th time he has experienced the loss of fellow first responder. The pain remains as fresh as the first time, he said.

“It hurts,” Mr. Berger said. “It’s family.”

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