Coffee Springs Fire Department Lockout

An overnight fatal wreck in rural Geneva County has stirred a controversy.

The former Coffee Springs volunteer fire chief believes city officials slowed down the response time to the accident.

On Tuesday night, 34-year-old Oscar Tidwell died in a two-vehicle wreck on Alto Reece Road, near Coffee Springs. Three of his passengers were injured, ironically shortly before the accident.

The Coffee Springs City Council voted to remove Chris Sellers as chief. Sellers says the city changed the locks to the fire station, and personnel couldn't get to their equipment. "We couldn't role on time,” he said. “We had to wait for the new chief to get to the fire department to let us in."

But the mayor pro tem says the lock on the fire station had little to do with the overall response time to the accident.

Mayor Pro Tem Lomax Martin says the locks were changed, but that didn't cause the delay. Martin says the firefighters were arguing with new Chief Larry Johnson.

Martin said, "[The] new chief said if you want to be part of this department, then respond. If not, go home. There was a few that griped about it."

Mayor Leala Aycock says there were too many keys floating around, and she ordered the locks be changed for a full accounting of equipment and other material inside the fire station.

Due to the ongoing dispute, one volunteer firefighter resigned from the Coffee Springs Volunteer Department on Wednesday.

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