ATLANTIC BEACH — On Tuesday evening, observers lined the streets as a motorcade procession arrived in Carteret County, bringing home Atlantic Beach Fire/EMS Chief Adam Snyder, who died Monday. He was 46 years old.
The procession began in Charlottesville, Va., where Chief Snyder died at the University of Virginia Medical Center from injuries sustained in a snow skiing accident at the Wintergreen Resort.
Virginia State Police led the procession from Virginia to the North Carolina state line, where N.C. State Highway Patrol Trooper Chadwick Taylor picked up the escort on I-95. From there, the motorcade proceeded to Carteret County, arriving late Tuesday at Munden Funeral Home & Crematory Inc. in Morehead City.
On the last leg of the journey through Morehead City to the funeral home, residents turned out along the roadside to honor Chief Snyder. Officials said they believe several thousand people came to show their respect for the longtime civil servant and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
Atlantic Beach Town Manager David Walker confirmed Chief Snyder’s death in a phone interview Monday with the News-Times.
“It’s a real tragedy for all who knew and admired Adam Snyder,” Mr. Walker said. “I always admired his courage, loyalty, sense of duty, commitment to professionalism and love of God, family and country. He was one of the finest department heads I’ve known in my 40 years in local government.”
Chief Snyder’s family made a statement Monday through the town fire/EMS department and N.C. Emergency Management.
“Adam was a wonderful and loving husband, father, brother, son, friend, mentor and a dedicated, lifelong public servant. Adam served with distinction in the Marine Corps as a rescue swimmer before working as a lifeguard, eventually earning his paramedic license and joining the Atlantic Beach Fire Department. He absolutely loved being a fire fighter paramedic, where he’s spent the last 20 years serving his community (15 of those as Chief).”
The Snyder family said that while Chief Snyder “left us physically,” as he did he “performed one final act of selfless service.”
“Adam was an organ donor,” his family said. “Today (Monday) he donated the ultimate gift, giving of himself so that others may live. There’s no greater act of nobility and love that one can give than to serve and save another. He truly was a lifelong public servant.”
The Snyder family said Chief Snyder and his “legacy of service will live in our hearts forever.”
According to a town press release, during Chief Snyder’s tenure, the department achieved levels of certification and received awards “that were nearly unprecedented for a small-town department.
“These accomplishments earned Chief Snyder’s department one of the highest fire department ratings in the country,” town officials said. “His remarkable work in Atlantic Beach and with local firefighting academies led him to become one of the most respected fire chiefs in North Carolina and beyond.”
Mayor Trace Cooper said in the release that a lot of lives have been saved by Chief Snyder, as well as by others in the department under his watch.
“I’ve never met anyone like him,” the mayor said. “Simply put, he was a hero.”
Even with Chief Snyder’s death, the town fire department isn’t completely adrift, according to Mayor Cooper.
“One of the things about great leaders like Adam Snyder is they create other leaders around them,” the mayor said. “We have a great bench of leaders in the Fire/EMS Department. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”
Chief Snyder was no stranger to emergency services officers outside of Atlantic Beach. Morehead City Fire/EMS Chief Jamie Fulk said he’s known Chief Snyder for the last 11 years.
“We were friends and coworkers,” Chief Fulk said. “We traveled all across this great country on motorcycles. We shared a passion for the fire service and talked endlessly about the best job in the world. Atlantic Beach, Carteret County and North Carolina have lost a great instructor and friend. My focus is now on his family.”
Emerald Isle Fire/EMS Chief Bill Walker was among those with whom Chief Snyder was acquainted, as well.
“He was a great guy and a great fire chief,” Chief Walker said. “I was proud to call him a friend.”
County officials also recognized Chief Snyder and his public service. County commissioners issued a statement Tuesday, saying the county has “lost a dedicated servant.”
“Adam was the epitome of a true public servant,” Chairman Mark Mansfield said. “He dedicated his life, both while in the Marine Corps and during his time with the Atlantic Beach Fire Department, to helping and serving others. During and following Hurricane Florence this past fall, Adam showed his public servitude by assisting other municipalities and the county in our efforts to help those affected by the storm. On behalf of the board of commissioners, we express our sincerest condolences to Chief Snyder’s family. He was a great man and will truly be missed.”
In addition to this statement, the chairman signed a resolution ordering all flags in the county to half-staff until Monday.
Funeral arrangements will be announced by Munden Funeral Home.
Town officials said they wish to thank the members of the Charlottesville Fire Department for the kindness shown in reaching out to the Snyders.
“We would also like to extend thanks to Chief Jamie Fulk and the Morehead City Fire Dept., the Carteret County Fire Marshal’s Office and all surrounding municipal and county fire fighting and EMS agencies for their continued support to the ABFD (Atlantic Beach Fire Department) during this difficult time,” town officials said.
An online fundraising effort to help Chief Snyder’s family is underway and can be found online at gofundme.com/f/adam-snyder. As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser had received $37,365 in donations.
At least one local business is also raising money for the Snyder family. Chik-fil-A of Morehead City confirmed to the News-Times that Thursday, 10 percent of all their sales will be donated to the Snyders.
“We know about his (Chief Snyder’s) influence in the community,” owner and manager Laura Conneely said. “It’s the least we can do.”
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.