A young volunteer firefighter from New Jersey was killed Christmas morning when her car crashed into a guardrail as she responded to an emergency call.
Natalie Dempsey, 21, worked for the Mizpah Volunteer Fire Company 18-2 and was the vice president of the organization. The company announced her death on its Facebook page at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Dempsey was driving her 2001 Honda Accord to a call just after 6 a.m. in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, when she apparently lost control and drove through a guardrail and off the road, according to New York ABC station WABC.
"At this time the Mizpah Fire Company has to announce the passing of Firefighter/Vice President Natalie Dempsey," the company wrote in a statement. "Please keep her family in your prayers. We will keep you all updated on any funeral arrangements. This will be a funeral with full honors due to it being a line of duty passing."
Dempsey was pronounced dead on the scene and was the only one in the car, WABC reported. Her car was only found after her own fire company stopped to assist other officials at the accident scene when returning from the initial fire to which Dempsey was reporting.
The Mays Landing Fire Department, which works with the Mizpah volunteer force, responded to the accident. The department called her "vibrant" and "always smiling." Both companies shared photos of Dempsey, one with a huge smile decked out in full uniform and gear, as well as another where she is playfully posing covered in firefighting foam.
"Please join us in extending our thoughts and prayers to Ms. Dempsey's family as well as to her firehouse family during this tough time," the Mays Landing Fire Department said in a statement.
"Natalie Dempsey, thank you for your service; we'll take it from here."
Mizpah Fire Chief Jay Davenport told NJ.com that Dempsey had just passed the Firefighter 1 certification and had attended the police academy over the summer.
Mizpah is about 25 miles west of Atlantic City, in southern New Jersey.