Stafford County

‘Always the sunshine': 20-year-old firefighter dies 2 months after fire truck crash

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A 20-year-old firefighter died over the weekend, almost two months after she suffered critical injuries in a fire truck crash.

On a stormy July 9, the engine in which Mia Ethridge was riding went off the road and hit a tree. She was critically injured.

Recently, she had progressed to rehab.

“We could see the progress as we’d go see her,” Stafford County Fire & EMS Capt. Gutavo Leite said. “We thought we were out of the woods.” 

Instead, an infection caused her death, colleagues said.

Ethridge was 18 when she entered Stafford County’s fire academy. She quickly became a star, in part because of her vibrant personality and dedication. 

“Was always the sunshine, was always the one that was encouraging others,” said Leite, who trained her. “The first one to be there to do a task, whether it’s doing ladders or stretching hose.”

He remembers her always at the front of the class, asking lots of questions.

“It was a really great thing to see her transition from the beginning to where at the end, she is leading this class to running into burning buildings, cutting cars,” Leite said.

After serving as a volunteer EMT and later a firefighter at three Stafford stations, Ethridge joined the Louisa County Fire & EMS Department as a career firefighter.

On Tuesday, she was honored with a procession of emergency vehicles on Interstate 95.

“The best way to remember and to move on is to remember her for who she was, the spirit and the sunlight that she is to us, and the time we’ve had with her we will cherish forever,” Leite said.

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