Former fire chief killed in crash escorted through Surf City

Body of Johnnie James escorted through Surf City on December 16, 2019 (Photo: Hannah Patrick/WWAY)

SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — Dozens of people lined the Surf City Bridge as the body of a community member and former fire chief was escorted through town a final time.

Surf City Fire Chief Allen Wilson said Johnnie James was killed in a crash involving a trash truck on Highway 24 in Carteret County on Friday.

- Advertisement -

James lived in Hampstead and was well-known for his time as the fire chief of the Surf City Volunteer Fire Department. Wilson said James has more than 15 years in the fire service including emergency services with rescue in law enforcement. He was also known for his barbecue catering business.

This afternoon, family, friends, and firefighters waited as James’ body was escorted through the town by law enforcement, EMS and fire. James’ truck and catering trailer was included in the processional.

Stephanie Jones is a family friend. She said it was an emotional moment for so many people who knew Johnnie as a community man.

Johnnie James (Photo: Facebook)

“It’s so heart warming that even you know on a Monday that people would turn out like this and it just speaks volumes about who he was and who is family is,” Jones said.

Jones said there were also local fishermen on boats waiting below in the water.

“Mr. Johnnie actually cooked down at Mr. Jerry’s house every Monday night,” Jones said. “We’re all kind of like family. We may not be blood kin, but we all get together on Monday nights and Mr.Johnnie always cooked and brought us all together and they are all local commercial fishermen, so they are paying their respects out on the boats.”

Chief Wilson said James was escorted from where the crash happened in Carteret County to Wallace passing through different fire departments along the way. James is originally from Wallace.