by Susan Mikula Campbell
Richard "Ricky" Jones, a Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter and U.S. Marine stationed in San Diego, died in a California highway accident last weekend.
Jones, 20, was involved in a multiple-vehicle chain-reaction accident on Interstate 8 in the Mission Valley area of San Diego at about 5 a.m. Saturday. He died at the scene. His father, Danny Jones, is a lieutenant in the Niagara Falls Police Department and also a member of Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. in Wheatfield.
Lane Funeral Home will handle funeral arrangements once Jones' body is brought here by the military on Friday morning, said Frontier Chief Bruce Mack. Meanwhile, he said, family and friends are still in shock at the young man's death.
NBC News in San Diego reported that Jones was traveling in a pickup truck with a friend (also a Marine) to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where they were stationed when they hit a vehicle that was stopped in the middle of the freeway. According to the surviving Marine, he and Jones got out of the truck to help the driver of the car that they and two other vehicles had just collided with, when he had to jump over the guardrail to avoid yet another oncoming vehicle, landing on a highway underpass about 20 feet below.
The surviving Marine said he was unsure whether Jones had also tried to jump the guardrail or was hit by the oncoming car. His body was found on the same underpass, below the scene of the accident.
Three people involved in the accident were taken to an area hospital with minor injuries.
Mack said he wasn't surprised that Jones got out of his vehicle to go help someone else.
"Anybody who becomes a volunteer fireman or volunteers for the military, it just seems to be the cloth they're made of," he said.
Jones became a member of Frontier's youth program at the firehall at the age of 14 and at the age of 18 became a regular member. His father is still a member and is a past president.
"He was a prankster ... he was the guy that would play the practical joke or make something happen, but when it was time to be serious, it was all business" Mack said of the boy he watched grow into a man.
After graduating from Niagara Falls High School, Jones decided to enlist in the Marine Corps for military police, leaving in the fall of 2012, said Mack. "Richie's goal was to try to follow in his dad's footsteps and be a police officer for his day job and remain a member of the firehall like his father."
Jones will be buried with full military honors, and Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. will be a part of the funeral process, including being part of the procession bringing the body to the funeral home from Buffalo Niagara International Airport (the military and Niagara Falls Police also will be participating) and holding a service at the wake, Mack said.
Funeral services will include the wake from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Lane Funeral Home, 8622 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls, followed by the fire department service at 5 p.m. Visiting hours also will be 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday.
The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Riverside Presbyterian Church, 815 84th St., Niagara Falls.