ANDERSON CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - A former fire chief is dead after crashing his car in Anderson County.
Ronnie Braden's brother says he started having chest pains on Wednesday, and was determined to drive himself and his wife to the hospital in Oak Ridge.
But he never made it, collapsing and crashing on the way.
His wife Connie was also in the car, and Braden's brother says she is recovering in the Intensive Care Unit.
She will have surgery tomorrow to stabilize her vertebrae, and family members are staying with her around the clock.
On Thursday night, Local 8 News visited the Medford Volunteer Fire Department where Braden was chief for many years. He's remembered for his leadership and his love for neighbors in need.
As a firefighter, sirens got Ronnie Braden's heart racing, and he was ready to spring into action to help his community.
"He watched out for his men too, and he wasn't afraid to grab a hose and get in there just the same as anybody else," said Joe Lamb, Braden's friend who volunteers for Medford FD.
He was a part of the Medford FD for more than 20 years. He helped build the fire station, and acquired several trucks still in use as chief.
"He just loved it. He loved being a firefighter. And he loved being a chief, and getting things motivated and done," said Lamb.
Karen McCoy remembers how Braden's quick actions saved her mother's life.
"He used CPR. Anderson County EMS all came. They were just supportive, took care of her, and just supported the family," said McCoy. "If Ronnie hadn't been there, my mother wouldn't be here today.
McCoy, inspired by Braden, later joined Medford FD as an EMT and firefighter.
Even though he retired several years ago, Braden's legacy to help others carried on in his two sons, who both worked with him at Medford when they were younger.
Now, his son Tony works at Clinton FD, and another son R.L. is in the military.
"Because they care so much. They have a drive and a desire to help others, and it shows," said McCoy.
The family has not made funeral arrangements for Braden. They're waiting to see how Connie's surgery goes, because they don't want to hold the funeral until she can attend.
Medford planned to honor Braden at a fundraiser set for February 23, but now they'll be paying tribute to his memory. It will be at a local church located at 407 Cane Creek in Anderson County.