A U.S. Marine killed by a hit-and-run driver Tuesday night near Thurmont was doing something he was known for — helping someone else.
William Ferrell, a 21-year-old corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps assigned to Camp David, died after an unknown vehicle struck him while he was assisting a disabled motorist on the shoulder of U.S. 15 near Auburn Road.
Ferrell loved to help people and got along with everyone, said Brian Tyner, the fire chief of Carthage Fire and Rescue in North Carolina, where Ferrell was a volunteer member for two years when he was younger.
“He cared about everybody else and was easy to get along with,” Tyner added. “I think what really got him into the fire service was [the opportunity] to help people.”
The driver who struck and killed Ferrell near Thurmont remained at large on Wednesday, state police said.
Police said Ferrell, of Carthage, North Carolina, pulled over his 2012 Nissan Titan to help a driver during a heavy downpour. A vehicle then struck Ferrell while he stood by his truck — near the driver’s door or front left end — on the shoulder of the road at about 10:55 p.m. Tuesday, causing fatal injuries, police said.
The disabled motorist’s vehicle was hit as well, Maryland State Police said.
Witnesses told police the driver who struck Ferrell briefly stopped after the crash – about 100 yards down the road, but drove away a few minutes later. Police believe the vehicle was some kind of truck towing a trailer and has significant damage to its right side.
As of Wednesday evening, neither the driver nor the vehicle had been identified or found, according to Maryland State Police Sgt. Vinson Smith. However, troopers are continuing their search with help from witnesses’ details and tips from the public, Smith said.
Ferrell, called Kyle by those who knew him well, joined the fire and rescue team in North Carolina as a junior member at 16. He volunteered until he graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 18, Tyner recalled.
“He was a great guy,” Tyner said. “He was good for the department, great [about] helping out with special events. ... Anything you needed done, he was there to help out with.”
Ferrell was a trained infantryman and Marine Corps security force guard during his time in the corps, according to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
Ferrell reported to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., after his graduation from the Marine Corps Security Forces School in April 2013, according to the guard company’s news release.
“The command is heartbroken by the loss of one of our own, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Cpl. William Ferrell,” Col. Benjamin Watson, commanding officer at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., said in a statement.
“During this difficult time, please know that William was a selfless Marine and his actions reflect his strong and noble character, one that epitomizes a United States Marine,” Watson added.
Ferrell graduated from basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina, in October 2012, then attended the School of Infantry, graduating in January 2013. He was promoted to corporal in August 2014.
Attempts to reach family members were unsuccessful.