Brotherhood of first responders pays tribute to JJ Lomax
BY DAVID FALCHEK
Times Shamrock Writer
The sun was high, but spirits were low and hearts heavy as an oversized flag was unfurled on Saturday for Daniel “JJ” Lomax Sr.’s last ride.
A retired Factoryville pumper truck festooned in black carrying Mr. Lomax’s remains, along with dozens of firefighting vehicles, passed under the flag flying from Scott Twp. and Dalton ladder trucks for the funeral of the fallen police officer and firefighter.
Emergency responders from throughout the region and beyond joined in after a team of motorcycles operated by the American Legion Honor Guard of Dickson City, Scranton police and state troopers led the funeral cortege.
The procession worked its way along Route 6 to College Avenue, then up the hills to Evergreen Woodlawn Cemetery. There, Mr. Lomax’s remains and mourners were met by police and fire honor guards and bagpipes.
In a small town like Factoryville, one degree separates most people. Jonni Kovalick and Debbie Uronis of La Plume Twp. knew members of Mr. Lomax’s large family and were at the roadside waiting to pay their respects to the funeral procession. The death shook the town.
“For the last week, this is all people were talking about,” Ms. Uronis said. “It has been a big loss for the town.”
Mr. Lomax was not on duty when he came across a one-car crash in Salem Twp., Wayne County, on Monday. But those who know him say Mr. Lomax was never off-duty.
“The first responders’ first responder,” as Factoryville Fire Company Capt. Kevin Howard called him – the first on the scene either as a firefighter or a police officer for Forest City, Great Bend or Mayfield.
That one-car crash was into a utility pole and brought down electrical lines. As he arrived on the scene, Mr. Lomax, who was 55, came in contact with a downed wire and was electrocuted. The driver of the vehicle survived but suffered severe burns.
Hundreds of firefighters and police officers, joined by peace officers such as U.S. park rangers and state conservation police, paid their respects. One firefighter came from Houston. Others came from South Carolina and Maryland, where Mr. Lomax also served.
“This is a brotherhood,” explained Doc Stacknick Jr., captain with the Dalton Fire Company. “JJ was acting out of his sense of duty, and everyone wants to honor that dedication.”