Colleagues remember Capt. Sewell

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

BY JAN RUNIONS

jan.runions@claiborneprogress.net

It’s often said it takes a special kind of individual to face danger head-on for the sake of his fellow man. From all reports, the Roy Sewell, Jr. stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the front of the short line of firefighters willing to give all.

Sewell, a captain with the North Tazewell Fire Department, died April 24 in the line of duty. He was 27.

The veteran fire station captain experienced his last call alone, inside his tanker truck, while en route to establish a medical helicopter landing zone. The temporary zone was needed to airlift a 9-year-old boy involved in an ATV crash.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sewell was traveling along Cedar Fork Road when his engine left the road and tumbled down an embankment. The fire truck flipped over, coming to rest upside down.

Sewell was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, according to the THP report.

Matthew Sewell spoke about his brother via a Facebook post.

“Roy truly gave his all to his family first, then (the North Tazewell Volunteer Fire) department. His willingness to serve and heart for his brotherhood and community went unmatched. Thank you for all the years of love and service this department gave to him. We’re all shocked and words are hard to come by, but one thing rings true and it’s that he was doing what he loved. I’m praying for peace and solace for those who responded and his second family during this time.”

In another post, Matthew recalled how his brother had the uncanny knack to have never met a stranger.

“Roy spent his entire adult life showing the people around him that no matter what your situation is, there’s always time to smile. He lit up a room like nobody else could.

“I’ll miss you but I know I will get to see you again one day when it’s my turn to visit the pearly gates. You better be there to greet me when I arrive. We have a few more rounds of CoD Zombies to play.”

David Breeding, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management/Homeland Security, called Sewell a hero.

“Heroes dwell among us. They come in many forms and one would not always recognize them,” Breeding said. “Contrary to popular belief they do not wear capes or masks. Our heroes are not chosen; they never believe they are heroes. Our heroes choose a pathway to follow, not for fame and fortune, but the passion that drives them.

“When they are tired they don’t waiver. When everything appears to be in the darkest hour they hold a light. They are willing to answer the call no matter the circumstances.

“We as a community are so blessed to have those heroes among us. When God calls one home it tends to stir feelings and have us ask the question ‘how can we help?’ When tragedy strikes, our county comes together to offer that help. It truly doesn’t matter if we are firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, doctors, nurses, teachers, dispatchers, military or somewhere in between. We need to thank these folks for what they do. Our time on earth is short; we try to make it count.”

Sewell’s last real radio communication was reportedly “where do you need me?”