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Funeral set for firefighter who ‘lived to help and serve others’

'It would absolutely mean the world to him,' fallen firefighter's brother says of tribute

The family of fallen Macon County firefighter Darrell Plank is overwhelmed by the tribute he's received since suffering a fatal head injury fighting a fire May 20, 2017. Retired Macon-Bibb battalion chief Stephen Stafford, who was seriously injure
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The family of fallen Macon County firefighter Darrell Plank is overwhelmed by the tribute he's received since suffering a fatal head injury fighting a fire May 20, 2017. Retired Macon-Bibb battalion chief Stephen Stafford, who was seriously injure

Firefighters from all over the region are expected to pay their respects this weekend to Macon County volunteer fireman Darrell Plank.

Plank, 29, died Tuesday of a traumatic brain injury suffered when he was hit in the head with a hose coupling at a structure fire Saturday.

Although he died as a firefighter, he “lived to help and serve others” in ways beyond fighting fires, said his friend and fellow baseball coach Jason Leverett.

It was a chilly February night in 2016 when Leverett met Plank at the first practice of the Perry Junior League Red Sox.

Plank was wearing a Montezuma Fire and Rescue hooded sweatshirt and had a Motorola radio sticking out of his back pocket.

Leverett noted his physical strength, but it was Plank’s smile, soft spoken ways and calm demeanor that made him an all-star with the players.

“Darrell was a great coach. The boys loved him,” Leverett wrote Wednesday as he put his thoughts in an email. “I still can’t believe he is gone.”

Leverett and Plank were together the night before Plank was fatally injured.

They took the team to the Mercer University baseball game where Plank was photographed with his trademark smile and arms victoriously thrust over his head.

PlankBall
Macon County volunteer firefighter and baseball coach Darrell Plank attended a Mercer University baseball game Friday, the night before he suffered a fatal brain injury at a fire. Special to The Telegraph breaking@macon.com

Those hands could fire off a fast ball that wore out Leverett’s glove hand when they played catch.

“He was one of those guys who could do anything,” Leverett said.

Plank loved sports and hunting and had recently taken his son Landon on a fishing trip to Tennessee, Leverett said.

“He loved doing things for people,” Leverett said. “I think this is why he was so passionate about being a volunteer fireman.”

Plank was always ready to help.

When a center-fielder was in distress at a game, Plank came to the rescue.

“None of us were really sure what was wrong, except Coach Darrell” Leverett said.

Instinctively, Plank told the coaches to huddle up and shield the boy from the sun as the firefighter fished something out of the player’s eye.

“He gave his talents and his time willingly to those near him,” Leverett said.

Leverett and others have noted Plank’s love for his family of five young children.

“When you saw all the kids together, often times barefooted, you knew why he said they were a gift from God,” Leverett said.

Family, friends and firefighters watched as the body of Macon County volunteer firefighter Darrell Plank returned to Montezuma Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Plank died May 23, 2017, of a head injury suffered while battling a fire Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Friends can pay their respects 1:30-3:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday during visitation at the Montezuma Mennonite Church at 2307 Whitehouse Road in Montezuma.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church at 1300 Washington Street in Perry.

Burial will follow at Word of Life Church Cemetery in Montezuma at the corner of Shiloh Church Road and Ga. 224.

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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