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Mother, daughter, firefighter dead after car goes into Elk River in murder-suicide

Mother, daughter, firefighter dead after car goes into Elk River in murder-suicide
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 2:38 PM EDT
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BRAXTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Three people died Sunday after a car plunged into the Elk River in what authorities say appears to be a murder-suicide.

Captain Scarbro with Braxton County Sheriff confirms Latonya Bell, 42, of Cleveland, Ohio, and her daughter Havana Pipkins, 8, died, as well as a firefighter John Forbush, 24, of Gassaway, West Virginia.

According to the Braxton County Emergency Management Director, the crash happened around 2:30 p.m. Sunday just south of Sutton, along I-79 near exit 62 across from the senior center.

Officials say Latonya Bell and her 8-year-old daughter were inside the vehicle at the time of the crash.

The volunteer firefighter died while attempting a rescue operation. According to a release from the West Virginia Fire Marshal, Forbush had served as a volunteer firefighter in the Gassaway community for four years.

“John D. Forbush selflessly gave his life for strangers in need,” the release states.

John Forbush, 24, of Gassaway, West Virginia died Sunday while attempting to rescue a mom and...
John Forbush, 24, of Gassaway, West Virginia died Sunday while attempting to rescue a mom and daughter trapped inside a vehicle that plunged into the Elk River.(WV State Fire Marshal)

The Braxton County Office of Emergency Services posted the following about Forbush:

“After speaking with family and viewing video evidence, it appears to be a murder-suicide,” said Captain Scarbro with Braxton County Sheriff.

Multiple fatalities reported in car accident
Multiple fatalities reported in car accident(WSAZ)

“County sheriff’s office and State Police responded as well and during that response we had a male volunteer firefighter who while in the water experienced some complications and ended up going under,” said Chief Deputy Robbie Bailey with the WV Fire Marshal.

According to a release, a deputy and state trooper managed to rescue another individual who was attempting to locate victims but began to go under. That individual is expected to be OK.

“The state fire marshal’s role here is because of the death of the volunteer firefighter who is a member of a West Virginia volunteer fire department,” said Bailey. “Any death is tragic so knowing we have one death, now two deaths, now three.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for Forbush. You can click this link here.

Multiple fatalities reported in car accident into river

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