Gentle rock music emanated from First Baptist Cumming’s sanctuary, Needtobreathe’s “Brother” sounding through the otherwise silent church.
Roadway fatalities in Forsyth County and Georgia this year:
8: Forsyth County
In front of the first responders lining the building’s entrance, Jacob Hammond’s family members gripped one another’s hands, exhaustion and sorrow playing on the faces of his parents, grandparents and friends.
On Monday, more than 100 first responders from Sandy Springs, Forsyth County, Cherokee County and others, as well as family, friends, acquaintances and some that he had never met, said their goodbyes to the Sandy Springs firefighter, who was killed in a single-vehicle motorcycle accident in north Forsyth early Thursday morning.
Hammond, a 21-year-old north Forsyth native, had been with Sandy Springs Fire Rescue for two and a half years – since March 2015 – after graduating from North Forsyth High School in 2014.
those two-and-a-half years, he responded to 1,317 calls to service, his last
working an extraction to pull a family from their wrecked car.
“He was the tool guy with the extrication equipment, his lieutenant informed me,” said Sandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders. “He responded to diabetic calls, medical calls; he helped save people’s lives. He helped little children, he helped get dogs out of hot cars, he helped extricate victims out of cars.
“Numerous calls – 1,317 – and he never considered it a job; it was a duty of service. He loved his job [and] what precious memories we have [of him.] His gear will continue to remain in his locker and we will make sure that locker stays clean, because he’s still a part of our family.”
Chief Keith SandersSandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders remebers Hammond at the young man's funeral
That family – evident beyond his mother and father, Bart and Lynn Craft Hammond; his sisters, Brittanee, Bethany and Lillee Hammond; his grandparents, Linda Ledbetter, Sheryl Croft and Allen and Bettina Hammond and his niece and nephew – surrounded Hammond with love Monday, eight Sandy Springs firefighters serving as pallbearers, a force of white, blue, brown and black shirts lined behind them.
Though they mourned Hammond, the men, women and children at First Baptist Cumming remembered the young man with smiles, laughter ringing through the sanctuary at times as Sanders recalled Hammond’s love of humor.
“That’s the kind of guy he was; he was always keeping us laughing,” Sanders said. “In the fire service, we’ve got a very strong brotherhood – we’re a family. See, firefighters are kind of unique, and we’re probably crazy [because] we run into the building which most people are running out of. We’re the ones who will risk our life to save your life.
“We eat together, we laugh together, we share each other’s troubles and trials and family issues and we fight fire together and we rescue people together and tragically sometimes we have to die together, but we never leave one another behind, and what precious memories we have [of Hammond.]”
But it’s more than memories, Sanders said.
“The last two nights of the last four days, we’ve had two commercial fires and he was right there with us,” he said, “and he will be with us until we see him again on the other side. I can’t promise you the future, but I know who holds the future, and we’ll see him again.”