The body of a Glasgow, WV firefighter was located just after noon on Friday, following nearly a week of searching after he was swept away while attempting a water rescue in Raleigh County.
Donald “Donnie” Adkins, 32, was in a rescue boat with Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Blankenship and another firefighter near Beaver when the boat tipped over about at about 1:30 a.m. last Saturday.
A freak rainstorm had inundated the area last weekend, forcing numerous residents to be rescued from their attics and trees near their homes. Flood waters were so high that rescuers were forced to cut through utility lines in order to affect many of the rescues, according to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
Donald “Donnie” Adkins with his sister Renee Coleman, in a photo submitted by the Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department.
“It is with deep sadness that we accept the loss of Glasgow Firefighter Donald Adkins,” Carper said in a news release. “While Kanawha County mourns this loss, we respect Donald’s bravery and sacrifice. I also wish to commend the hundreds of volunteers throughout the state, including the State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis, countless firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, the National Guard and the hundreds of other volunteers who risked their own personal safety in this selfless act of recovery of Donald Adkins who was recovered in Piney Creek, about 4.5 miles from where the boat capsized on Beaver Creek this past Saturday.”
Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman said for several days this week, there were close to 100 people searching the Gauley River and its tributaries in an attempt to locate and recover Donnie Adkins.
Sigman led the search team that located the body. “He’s downstream in a pile of brush. They’re trying to get him out with chainsaws. There’s a lot of huge brush and tree limbs to cut through to get access to him.”
“It’s in a very inaccessible spot. It’s hard to get to when the water was up,” Sigman said. “When the water went down, it looked like a likely spot, and there he was.”
Adkins was with the Glasgow department for about three years and was a firefighter in Rand before that, Blankenship said.
He had two children and was also like a father to his girlfriend’s daughter, Blankenship said. All are between the ages of 5 and 8, he said.
Adkins had lost his job March 12, the day before he lost his life.
“Donnie was a very loved individual,” Blankenship said. “He was just a good all-around person.”
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he wanted to commend all of the firefighters and other rescuers who helped with the search, as well as Gov. Joe Manchin, who also lent his support.
“While Kanawha County morns this loss, we respect Donald’s bravery and sacrifice,” Carper said. “We should be reminded that these individuals put their own personal safety on the line each and every day to protect us all.”