Volunteer Firefighter Killed In Watauga County Crash

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — Officials say that volunteer firefighter Raymond “Jay” Kerley was killed in a crash on U.S. Highway 321.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, just after 8 p.m. on October 31st, troopers arrived at a fatal collision on U.S. Highway-321 near Phillips Branch Road.

Raymond Jefferidge Kerley Iii

Raymond Jefferidge Kerley III

Troopers say that a 2008 Ford F250, driven by Jeremy Denney, 28, ran off the right side of the road and overcorrected, crossed the center line before hitting a 2012 Ford Escape and a 2002 Ford F250.

The driver of the 2012 Ford was taken to the hospital with critical injuries. Denney had non life-threatening injuries.

Denney was arrested and charged with felony death by vehicle, felony serious injury by vehicle, driving while impaired, and reckless driving. His bond is set at $100,000.

Firefighter Jay Kerley was the driver of the 2002 Ford and passed away from his injuries on the scene. WCCB learned that Kerley was a volunteer firefighter with Cove Creek Volunteer Fire Department for at least 18 years.

Kerley had also worked with the Boone Fire Department and was an assistant fire marshal with the Watauga County Fire Department. He was currently employed at Appalachian State University as a fire safety employee.

According to Cove Creek Fire Chief Steve Marks, the crash happened near their station and they were called to respond.