04/04/08 — Shine fire chief dies in fall

View Archive

Shine fire chief dies in fall

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on April 4, 2008 1:46 PM

The chief of Shine Volunteer Fire Department fell to his death Thursday from a Mulberry Street building where he was repairing the roof, authorities said.

Tully Layden, 52, was a longtime firefighter and this year's president of the Greene County Fire Chiefs Association, his friends and associates said.

Layden was working on the roof at the office of Neal Shipman, who runs a part-time business at the building.

The accident scene was at 507 Mulberry Street, between the North Carolina Street and North Georgia Avenue.

The call for help about an unresponsive man severely injured on the sidewalk outside Shipman's office first came in at 11:33 a.m., according to emergency records.

Shipman was at the scene not long after along with firefighters, waiting for a representative of the N.C. Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Goldsboro used its ladder truck to allow the OSHA representative to look at the top of the building.

Shipman said he met Layden and his crew at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, where he told them about problems with his roof.

At Lowe's, Layden reportedly told Shipman he operated Creative Solutions, which does home repairs, new construction and landscaping, according to company advertisements.

Shipman had a receipt for a $3,000 check that allowed Creative Solutions to start work on Thursday.

Shipman first heard about the accident around noon, when he returned to his office from his job at the N.C. Department of Correction's alcohol and drug treatment facility at Cherry Hospital.

"I had come on my lunch break, and I noticed the activity around the building," Shipman said. "I would just like to give my regrets to the family and the other members of the company."

Around 2 p.m., Chuck Murdock of the N.C. OSHA arrived, and scaled the ladder truck with the assistance of firefighters.

When he came back down, he had bad news for Shipman.

"Just about the whole roof is uncovered up there. They have (oriented strand board or OSB board) protecting it," Shipman said.

But the OSB board was not secured tightly, and Murdock was worried about forecasts of severe weather.

"They're talking thunderstorms tomorrow evening," Murdock said. "(Some of the building materials) would be like flying projectiles if we get any high winds or anything like that."

Details have not been released about the cause of the accident, but local residents say the community has lost a valuable volunteer and friend.

Randy Skinner, director of the Greene County Department of Emergency Services, knew Laden through working with him at fire scenes.

"He was a dedicated fire chief. He was easy to get along with, and he stood up for what he believed in. He was dedicated to fire service," Skinner said.

"He's going to be truly missed here in Greene County," the emergency services director added.

Greene County Sheriff Lemmie Smith said he also had known Laden for some time.

"He always wanted everything done right," Smith said. "He was as dedicated to his job as a firefighter can be."