Alexandria Fire Department paramedic Joshua Weissman, while responding to a car fire, was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. Thursday at Washington Hospital Center.
Wiessman, 33 of Bristow, was a seven-year veteran of the Alexandria Fire Department. He was married with no children.
At a press conference on Thursday evening, Alexandria Fire Chief Adam Thiel said Weissman suffered a “severe head injury” falling into Four Mile Creek near where I-395 connects with South Glebe Road.
The incident remains under investigation by the Alexandria Fire Department and the Virginia State Police.
Thiel said funeral arrangements are pending. A city spokesperson said flags would fly at half-staff for seven days in Weissman's honor.
While the department has lost firefighters and paramedics in different situations in the past, Thiel said Weissman is the first member to fall in the line of duty in more than 100 years.
“Josh always had a smile,” Thiel said. “He was always positive. I never heard a negative comment.”
Weissman worked out of Fire Station 206 on Seminary Road and had a history of outstanding performance training reports. Thiel said the paramedic received many letters from the community commending his work and was known to check on families days after responding to calls to their homes.
“That was the kind of person Josh was,” said Thiel, who spent the evening with Weissman’s family. “Committed, dedicated and professional until the end.”
Thiel was at the scene of Wednesday’s car fire and said that situational awareness could have been hampered responding to such an incident on a rainy night in a place with a difficult configuration like an overpass.
Weismann, who was the first responder to the car fire, was reported to be in serious condition on Wednesday night after suffering life-threatening injuries in the fall. Arlington County fire and police crews as well as Alexandria police and Virginia State Police all assisted in his rescue.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and members of City Council were in Richmond on Thursday for a legislative meeting and were unable to attend the press conference at Station 206. City Manager Rashad Young and Deputy City Manager Michele Evans were on hand along with many members of the fire department, who hung black bunting over the station’s entrance.