New Jersey volunteer firefighter of 50 years killed in hit and run outside firehouse

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Toni Yates has more from Somerville, New Jersey. (WABC)

Police are on the hunt for the driver who struck and killed a volunteer firefighter outside a Somerville firehouse.

Investigators say 75-year-old George Kavanaugh was found in front of the Lincoln Hose Company on Friday night.

He died at the hospital.

George Riehman had known Kavanaugh since they were school age, and for years to come, they shared the passion of protecting the community from danger.

Riehman says Friday night, he saw his friend die in that hit and run, right in front of one of the fire houses he'd spent so many hours in.

"I was parked over there," Riehman said. "I was going to get my car to pick him up, and this guy backed out and didn't see him or something. Ran over him twice and took off. It's a nightmare."

Ironically and tragically, Kavanaugh was there commemorating former Chief Charles Becker, who'd passed away after an illness.

Kavanaugh and others were making last minute plans for Becker's funeral, scheduled for the next day.

A note scribbled on a board inside from Becker's grandaughter is now joined with notes for Kavanaugh's arrangements.

"It's horrible, especially with two guys so close together and two of them both ex-chiefs in town," fire chief Robert Lynn said. "It's just tough."

Kavanaugh was 75 years old, with 50 of them spent dedicated to the all-volunteer department.

"He was an active member, obviously, 50 years," Assistant Chief Brian Iselin said. "He's held every position we have that's notable. He's an active, was an active member of the legion, very well liked. Some of the things I can remember most or I'll miss most is his warm and welcoming nature. Anytime he came into a room, wherever you were, in town, out of town, you always felt, he made you feel like you were coming home."

The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office is handling the investigation, and authorities say one key will be trying to find the car that may have been parked in the area right before it struck the victim.

"Even this year, he was still upholding all mandatory requirements, doing everything he could," Iselin said. "His dedication was insurmountable."

And so just as firefighters in the department got through saying goodbye to one member, they are now making final plans for another.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact authorities.

Related Topics:
hit and runfirefighter killedsomerset countySomerville
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