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Stephanie L. Callaway
Sussex County Paramedic
6/17/2008 - LEWES -- Sussex County Paramedic Stephanie L. Callaway, 31, of Lewes, will be remembered as 'the type of person, no matter the situation, who would smile and respond, 'It's all good,'' according to co-worker Joseph P. Hopple.

'Even now, she would find a way to see the good in something as tragic as this,' he said.

Callaway was killed in a single-vehicle crash around 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 17, on Route 24 near the Lewes-Rehoboth fire company substation in Angola, police said.

Officials said the ambulance was en route to Beebe Medical Center with one patient, two Mid-Sussex Rescue Squad paramedics and Callaway on board when it struck a tree, after swerving to avoid a deer in the roadway. The impact opened the side of the ambulance, according to officials on-scene.

Both the patient, 82-year-old Betty J. Hall of Lewes, and Callaway were killed. The driver, Michael E. Wissman, 34, of Frankford, and paramedic Brice H. Hickman, 47, of Dagsboro, sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

'Stephanie was so kind and always eager to help her neighbors,' said Eleanor Ellis, who has lived next door to Callaway's family for four years. 'When my husband became ill, Stephanie came over to the house and said to let her know if we needed anything. She will be so missed.'

A native of the Georgetown area, Callaway attended Delaware Technical & Community College and earned her bachelor's of science degree in emergency medical services management from George Washington University. She is survived by her husband and two young children.

Jack Gordon, a neighbor of eight years, remembers Callaway as a kind person, who dearly loved her children.

'I always saw both (Stephanie and Steve) outside playing with the kids,' he said. '(They were) very loving parents.'

In addition to her paramedic duties, Callaway served as a field training officer and spokeswoman for the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center. She was also president of the Sussex County Paramedic Association.

Colleagues gathered Tuesday morning to recall their fondest memories of Callaway, who was regarded as a 'consummate professional' who was easy to talk to and who always had a positive outlook.

Grief counselors have been brought in to console co-workers, according to Glenn Luedtke, director of Sussex County's EMS.

Officials said staff duty assignments are being adjusted to accommodate those employees who were close to Callaway. Offers of assistance have poured in from neighboring departments, including New Castle, Kent counties, as well as paramedics from Ocean City and Caroline County in Maryland.

'Our family is gathering around us and that's how we'll get through this,' Luedtke said in a press release. 'It will be tough, but somehow we will get through it.'

County Administrator David B. Baker has ordered all county flags to be lowered to half-staff until further notice. Baker said the entire county government is saddened by the loss of one of its own.

'People don't realize the dangers that are involved in this profession sometimes,' Baker said in a press release. 'What has happened here today certainly drives that home for all of us.'

Callaway's passing is the first line-of-duty death for the Sussex County Emergency Medical Services department in its 18-year history, officials said, but not the first accident of its kind. Since Jan. 1, three accidents involving emergency vehicles have occurred in Sussex County.

On Jan. 28, a Millsboro Volunteer Fire Company ambulance was stopped at the intersection of Beaver Dam Road and Indian Mission Road in Harbeson when it was struck by a Jeep driven by a 44-year-old Georgetown man who failed to negotiate a curve. The driver of the Jeep was killed. Three paramedics inside were seriously injured, but all survived.

Another accident May 16 involved a Hart to Heart ambulance, a Dover-based medical transport company. The off-duty ambulance was traveling southbound on Coastal Highway near Milford when it was struck by a vehicle attempting to make a U-turn. The three members of the ambulance squad were all treated for non-life threatening injuries, officials said.

Hall, the patient who also died as a result of the crash, was a resident at Renaissance Healthcare Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

'Obviously this is a tragedy,' said Mike Gnade, director of business development for Cadia Healthcare, the home's corporate office. 'We're thinking about what can be done as far as the family's concerned.'

Funeral arrangements for Callaway are pending. The State Police investigation continues, officials said.


News Journal Reporter Dan Shortridge contribute to this report.

ksmith@dmg.gannett.com

302-537-1881, Ext. 211


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