By Brian Livingston
The Meridian Star, Miss.
MERIDIAN, Miss. — The death of a volunteer fire department chief has rocked Newton County.
Mickey L. Yates, 47, of Decatur and the fire chief at Greenfield Volunteer Fire Department, died Saturday night after he was involved in a two-vehicle accident with a sheriff's deputy while responding to a traffic accident.
"He was a good guy," said Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight, who has known Yates for about 20 years. "He had been with the department for several years. He will be missed by a great many people."
Mississippi Highway Patrol Cpl. Andy West, who is the public information officer for Troop H headquartered in Meridian, said Yates' 2001 Chevrolet pickup and a 2009 Dodge Charger driven by a deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Department, collided on Highway 492 at Evans Tabernacle Road.
West said Yates' truck went off the roadway and rolled over, ejecting Yates. Yates was pronounced dead at the scene, West says.
"We don't have any indication he was wearing a seat belt," West said.
Both Yates and the sheriff's deputy were responding to the same traffic accident call around 8:45 p.m. when the accident occurred. West said it was still not entirely clear as of Monday afternoon what exactly led to the collision of the two vehicles that were both traveling east on Highway 492.
Knight said the deputy was treated for minor injuries sustained in the wreck.
Joey Hand, Newton County Fire Service Coordinator, said members of the volunteer fire service and the county as a whole are trying to cope with the unexpected loss.
"We just lost the best fire chief this county has probably ever seen," Hand says. "He put his heart and soul into that department and it showed in the work they have done."
Hand said Yates was the chief at Greenfield for 23 years. Hand says Yates ranked his family first and the department second.
"I not only had a great working relationship with him but he was a dear friend as well," Hand says. "It is going to take a lot of time to get over this."
Newton Mayor David Carr said he didn't know Yates personally but was familiar with his reputation as a dedicated volunteer firefighter and community conscious citizen of Newton County.
"I really hated to hear of this loss for our county and the Yates family," Carr said.
The volunteer fire departments in Newton County have a good reputation for responding to the needs of the residents and have always been there to assist the town of Newton whenever the need arises, Carr said.
"That goes back to the kind of community loving people, like Mickey Yates, who man these departments," Carr said. "As tragic as it is, he was responding to the needs of someone else when this accident occurred. He died in the service of others."
Visitation for Yates will be held today beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Milling Funeral Home in Union. Services for Yates will be held Wednesday at Milling Funeral Home beginning at 2 p.m. Burial will follow in Sand Springs Cemetery located on Highway 503 north of Hickory.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 The Meridian Star