Calcutta firefighters stunned by deaths

CALCUTTA – The deaths of husband and wife Jamie and Meghann Nign in a car accident Sunday left behind not only their eight children and other loved ones, but their family at the Calcutta Volunteer Fire Department, where both were firefighters.

Monday, their colleagues at the fire department were trying to make sense of the tragic car crash in Gavers that not only took the Nigns’ lives but left four of their children seriously injured and hospitalized.

Chief Scott Smith and other firefighters, including Smith’s son, Lance, admitted they still can’t believe what happened to the couple or the irony of Mrs. Nign being killed in a head-on crash when, just about two years ago, her sister Amanda Bibbee lost her life in an eerily similar crash outside Rogers.

“It still hasn’t hit me,” the younger Smith said Monday afternoon, noting that a year ago this week he, the Nigns and other firefighters had traveled to New York City together.

Meghann was also an EMT with North Star Critical Care, where owner Christine Lerussi said, “Meghann will be remembered as a passionate daughter, wife, mother and sister. She was a dedicated, passionate EMT (and) was a great asset to our service and to our community.”

Lerussi said she and her husband will be “dearly missed.”

On Monday, the flag outside the Pugh Road fire station was lowered to half-staff as firefighters used the aerial truck to drape black bunting along the front in honor of their colleagues.

A Liverpool Township firefighter stopped by to pick up a helmet to take to local signmaker Jeff Campbell, who had offered to make stickers honoring the Nigns for firefighters’ helmets.

A Highlandtown fire official also stopped at the station and offered any help his department could give, while a younger member of that department assisted in hanging the bunting.

And, according to Smith, this is how it went throughout the day, with fire departments calling from all over the area to offer whatever is needed to help the department or the Nigns’ children.

The public, made aware of the tragic accident through the media, also has expressed its concern.

Calcutta firefighter Scott Cox, also a close family friend, related on his Facebook page how, while filling his vehicle at a local gas station Monday, a couple walked up, asking if he was a member of the Calcutta Fire Department.

When told yes, the woman began crying and hugged Cox, telling him, “Your station will heal and (so will) the families.”

Cox, owner of the FireStreet Grille in East Liverpool, has scheduled a benefit dinner in honor of the lost firefighters and to help with immediate expenses involving the children’s medical care.

The dinner will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the East End restaurant at 1577 Pennsylvania Ave., featuring a menu of an eight-ounce strip steak, macaroni and cheese and salad for $8.99.

Both dine-in and carryout orders will be offered and carryout orders can be made at 330-932-0243. All proceeds will be donated to the Nign family.

Donations can also be made during the dinner or by calling Cox at 330-843-3902.

Smith said it is unknown at this time what funeral arrangements are being made by the couple’s family, and what part if any the fire department will have in those, such as a last alarm or funeral procession.