Community mourns the loss of one of ‘the good guys’
Tom Hetherington wasn’t a member of the Middlesex Hose Company for many years, but his personality, training, and experience helped him become embedded in the brotherhood of volunteers in this small Finger Lakes community even before he officially joined.
Hetherington’s life, cut short last week, was in the fire service, beginning as an Explorer Scout with the Churchville Fire Department in his first hometown. He grew up in that volunteer fire department, serving 25 years, and made a career with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
His other passions were dogs, enjoying the rural outdoors, whether he was boating, hunting, or snowmobiling, the passion that took his life Dec. 7 in Inlet, near Racquette Lake.
According to police, Hetherington was in the Adirondacks Friday night for the start of snowmobiling season in the North Country. He was driving a 2004 Ski-Doo snowmobile near Raquette Lake in the town of Inlet. Police there reported he may have been traveling too fast for icy conditions when his snowmobile ran off a curve and hit a tree. A friend who was traveling with him also crashed and tried to give aid, but could not save him. He was pronounced dead shortly after the accident.
Hetherington’s accident has shaken members of the Middlesex Hose Company, who find themselves mourning the third major loss to their ranks in two years. Terri Smith died in March 2017 and her husband, Tom Smith died in October 2018. Both were active in leadership roles in the small department for decades.
Assistant chief at Middlesex FD killed in snowmobile accident
First responders around the region are mourning the untimely passing of a 46-year-old Middlesex man, who served as assistant fire chief for the Middlesex Fire Department.
The accident happened on Friday night while snowmobiling at Adirondack Park.
Inlet Police Chief Ronald Johnston says that 46-year-old Thomas Hetherington was riding with others outside of Raquette Lake.
Johnston said that Hetherington missed a curve and hit a tree just after 8 p.m. A close friend, who also crashed, was riding behind him and attempted to resuscitate Hetherington.
He was later pronounced dead. Officials say that icy trail conditions may have been a factor in the accident — along with speed.
Hetherington was a past chief at Churchville Fire Department. He also worked as a fire instructor.
The following message was posted to Facebook by the Middlesex Fire Company:
“It is with the greatest sadness and a heavy heart that we share word of the untimely passing of Thomas Hetherington. Tom was Third Assistant Fire Chief of the Middlesex Hose Company and Fire Protection Specialist/Investigator with the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Tom died as a result of injuries received in an accident that occurred in the Adirondacks late Friday night.
Please keep Tom’s wife and the entire Hetherington family in your thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time.”