‘You’re not going to find a better person’: Local fire chief’s legacy felt after ‘bizarre’ accident

‘Freaky’ circumstances surround the death of a couple who left a huge impact on their communities

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – Thousands in Henry County are mourning the death of a fire chief.

Charlie Bradshaw, with the Horsepasture Volunteer Fire Department, and his wife Sherri, died Friday in a car crash.

Their deaths have been devastating for many throughout the local community. Many say they had a huge impact on the area and cannot be replaced.

They were driving near the fire department Friday around 4 p.m. when something happened that firefighters describe as “freaky” and “bizarre.”

A tree on the side of the road fell, hitting their windshield, causing them to veer off the road into a wooded area and hit a utility pole.

They died at the scene, likely from the impact of the tree, according to firefighters. Their two grandchildren were in the backseat, who are fine after getting minor injuries.

Firefighters rushed to the scene, not knowing they’d find the leader of their department.

“They were like in a daze. Once they came to the fire department they were tore up,” acting fire chief Nickie Hairston said.

Hairston called Charlie Bradshaw a close friend and described him as a caring man.

“He’s a good man,” Hairston said. “You’re not going to find a better person.”

Hairston had just talked to him on the phone Friday afternoon. Less than an hour later, he got the bad news.

“I called up there and he said, ‘Nickie,” he said, ‘It’s chief and his wife.’ I just dropped the phone."

At the squad’s headquarters in Horsepasture, the American flag is at half-staff, and a sign reads, “end of watch.”

Firefighters and local officials said the family had a huge impact in the community and elsewhere in Henry County over the last few decades.

“It’s big and he isn’t going to be able to be replaced,” Hairston said. “We got to do what Charlie wanted us to do, just move forward and take care of our community.”

Bradshaw had been the fire chief in Horsepasture since 2007. Before serving there, he was a member of the Fieldale Rescue Squad in the 70s and 80s, according to a local official, who said Bradshaw would serve the community in any way he could.

Bradshaw also owned a local business in Horsepasture.

The volunteer department did not take calls over the weekend and had them rerouted to other agencies.

The funeral for the couple will be Thursday at 1 p.m. at Horsepasture Christian Church, which is located at 1146 at Horsepasture Price Road. There will be a visitation Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m. at the same location.

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