APPLETON, Maine — The death of a young volunteer firefighter in a car accident on Tuesday has left a “very big hole” in the Appleton Fire Department and in the town, said Chief Dave Stone.
The department will put on a “fire service funeral” Saturday for Amon Vaughan, 18, of Appleton. Firefighters from Union and Hope will join those from Vaughan’s department in a service that Stone expects will draw hundreds of people to remember the young man.
“The whole town is taking it hard,” Stone said. “He was part of the community. I’ve been here in the department a long time, and we’ve had deaths before, but I’ve never had one this close.”
Vaughan was heading to Fisher Engineering in Rockland, where he worked as a welder, when he apparently fell asleep and crashed his black Toyota pickup truck, according to authorities. No other vehicles were involved in the accident, which happened on Route 17 in Rockport.
Though emergency crews from Appleton weren’t called to respond to the call, word traveled fast, Stone said.
“It is a family,” he said of his volunteer crew. “We have to protect each other all the time, in all kinds of different situations. We become really close.”
Vaughan also was close to students from the Zenith Program, an alternative education program serving Camden Hills Regional High School where he was a graduate in 2008.
“You could always depend on him. He was someone you could always count on,” said Candi Witham, a Zenith student.
Nate Larlee, the science and math teacher at the program, said the students are taking the news of Vaughan’s death very hard.
“He had his boys, and those are the guys who are having a tough time right now,” Larlee said.
The teacher remembered Vaughan as a “wonderful guy,” who was comfortable with himself.
“He was the kind of kid who really wanted to graduate, get a dog, spend time with his girlfriend and work,” Larlee said. “There was a big part of his soul that was really at peace, because he knew who he was.”
The Zenith students have been making buttons with Vaughan’s photo, preparing a slide show for the funeral and spending some time at a popular “mudding” spot to remember their friend, he said.
“He was a really fun, outgoing, happy-go-lucky guy,” said friend R.J. Muir. “When he put his mind to something he finished it, and finished it 100 percent.”
Korah Soll, another teacher at the program, said Vaughan had an uncommon peacefulness.
“He knew who he was,” she said. “He was a true, small-town Maine kid. And he would have been a really outstanding adult, but he didn’t have a chance to get there.”
A celebration of Vaughan’s life will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Appleton fire station. Attendees are asked to park at the school and take a shuttle to the fire station.