The Schenectady Fire Department lost a captain Monday in an off-duty ATV accident.
Capt. John Nicol, 47, died doing what he loved: exploring the backcountry.
He and a friend were driving ATVs in Lewis County when the accident happened, Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said.
Nicol was on the lead ATV, Bennett said. Suddenly, the dirt trail opened up into a bed of gravel. Nicol didn’t have time to slow down.
“He lost control,” Bennett said. “He was ejected.”
He died of his injuries shortly thereafter, and the county sheriff informed the fire department Monday afternoon.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an investigation into the accident. Officials there said they would issue a news release when their investigation was over.
But Bennett said it appeared to be a simple accident.
“The sheriff indicated to me that they may have not been familiar with that particular trail,” Bennett said, suggesting that if they had known about the gravel, Nicol would have compensated for it.
Nicol was hired by the Schenectady Fire Department on March 19, 1990. He was promoted to captain Nov. 6, 2006, and was most recently assigned to Truck 2, Bennett said.
When the department celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2000, he was one of a dozen firefighters who received a certificate of meritorious service.
“Well-respected guy,” Bennett said. “It’s a real shame.”
Firefighters learned the news as they fought two serious fires Monday.
“It was a very difficult day,” Bennett said. “The news spread between the fires.”
Nicol leaves behind a son, Joshua; daughter, Stephanie; fiancee, Karen Tygert; and ex-wife.