LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — An assistant fire chief, who was directing traffic at an accident, was hit and killed by a car Wednesday night, officials said.

Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Lynette Walker identified the victim as 59-year-old Dennis Straight of Lancaster. He was a volunteer firefighter with Charlotte Road-Van Wyck Fire Department for more than 20 years.

Dennis Straight Lancaster Fire
Lancaster County Fire Rescue

North Carolina Highway Patrol said the incident happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. 521 and S.C. 5. Troopers told NBC Charlotte a man driving a Chevy Malibu tried to merge onto the highway and hit Straight.

Straight was taken to Springs Memorial Hospital where he later died.

"Please keep Chief Straight's wife, emergency responders, and his family in your thoughts and prayers," Lancaster County Fire Rescue said in a news release.

Russell Rogers, Lancaster County Fire Marshal and long-time neighbor of Straight's, is heartbroken.

“This is a small community fire department of ten members,” said Rogers. “To have the assistant chief to be killed in such a tragic way it’s going to take a hard time to heal.”

Rogers said the most comforting thing about Straight’s death is that he died the way he lived -- helping others.

“I don’t think he’ll ever regret making that call. I think that he just thought he’ll be helpful," Rogers said.

Every day since 1998, Straight suited up and volunteered for the fire department after working a separate full-time job.

“He’s never received any payment for what he’s done,” said Rogers. “He loved what he did. Thank you for what you did for the community.”

Lancaster Fire and Rescue said more information would be released when funeral arrangements were finalized.

The driver of the Chevy Malibu, 33-year-old Corey Wright, was not hurt. There's no word yet if any charges will be filed. The crash was under investigation.

NBC Charlotte's Billie Jean Shaw contributed to this report.

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