Family and friends share memories of firefighter, 77, killed while directing traffic

The family and fellow firefighters of Roger Estes, 77, shared their memories of the man killed on the Fourth of July while directing traffic.
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 8:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 8:13 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Tuesday, the family and fellow firefighters of Roger Estes, 77, shared their memories of him.

Devin Estes said his grandfather loved being a firefighter.

“Every day, he would say, ‘I’m getting too old. I’m getting too old.’ I was like, ‘you ain’t gonna retire.’ He’s like, ‘No, I’m not,’” said Devin Estes.

Devin Estes said his grandfather served in the Navy for eight years and was a firefighter for 22 years in New Hampshire before retiring, moving to Tennessee and later joining the South Claiborne Volunteer Fire Department.

”He’s a big inspiration. There were days he could make you mad, but he turned around right afterward and make sure if you needed something, get it done,” shared Devin Etes.

Members of the South Claiborne Volunteer Fire Department, Tanya Harmon and Jeremy Harmon, said being at the station without Roger Estes is hard.

“He was the best. He didn’t just encourage me; he encouraged everybody in the department. Always do your best; he was behind everybody. He was first on the scene. No matter what it was. He was jumping right in there with you. No matter the rank or anything, he was right there,” shared Tanya Harmon.

“I mean, for that man to be 77 years old, he got around like an 18-year-old, and I can’t get around that good. He was a role model to me when I first started. I mean, the man taught me everything I know. And I’m thankful that I grew up under him. I mean, he was a true smoke eater,” said Jeremy Harmon.

The South Claiborne Fire Department has plans to honor Roger Estes by changing the number on one of its fire trucks to his number, which was 408.

Estes’ family said they are working on the details for a funeral service and will share that information once it is finalized.

The South Claiborne County volunteer firefighter was killed while he was directing traffic at an Independence Day event.

A Tennessee Highway Patrol report said the crash occurred at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Highway 33 South in New Tazwell. Roger Estes was reportedly hit by a Ford F-150 truck and died from his injuries. There’s no word yet if the driver who hit Roger Estes will be charged.

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