- East Side Volunteer Fire Department
- North Carolina
- Age: 17
- Year of Death: 2018
Dakota Snavely’s life was cut short due to a motor vehicle accident while responding to a water rescue in Stanly County on June 10, 2018, seven days shy of his 18th birthday. This occurred when a large commercial vehicle traveling in the opposite direction lost its load and overturned. Dakota was born June 17, 2000, to Jimmy Snavely and the late Laura Richardson. He was an avid baseball player from the age of four. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and grilling out every evening with his father, Jimmy, and stepmom, Elizabeth. Dakota played on many baseball teams, including Parkwood High School as pitcher and catcher. When he was not playing baseball, he was learning about the fire service.
Dakota began volunteering at the age of 15 after watching his father train and respond to calls. He wanted to be just like his dad. Dakota was serious about his commitment to East Side and wanted to learn everything about the fire service. According to the fire chief, he was always asking questions. It was Dakota’s dream to be a firefighter, one that he got to live out. He spent many hours training and helping his community. Dakota had a very giving spirit and would easily lay down his life for a friend. Like most teenagers, Dakota’s life was documented on social media. His Facebook page, even at 17, showed he lived life to the fullest. Pictures and memories plastered his wall with accomplishments during his baseball career. Friends tagged him in Little League team photos and hunting trips during deer season. Every “check in” at the fire station confirmed his passion, whether it was official training or hanging out at the station with his friends to learn more about fighting a fire.
When it came time to sign up for the local firefighter competition during the annual July 4th celebration, he was there. The team practiced daily for their event, taking home 3rd place in the Blind Hose Drag. He was part of the team to help bring awareness to the Special Olympics during the Albemarle Correctional Institution 2017 Muscle Hustle Firetruck Pull and Chili Cook-off. In May 2019, Dakota was recognized as the 294th firefighter to die in the line of duty at the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. Dakota’s memory lives on through Facebook. Friends still post memories on his page, tagging him in the crazy things they have done and wishing him Happy Birthday in heaven. To know Dakota is to know that he loved life, his family and friends, and the fire service.
To know Dakota was an honor. He was also a valued member of our fireworks team with his Dad and was looking forward to being able to shoot his first show in July after his 18th birthday. He will forever be known as Cheeseburger to me, his love of food was close behind his love for his God, his family & baseball.– Kim Webster