A 17-year Waco Fire Department veteran suffered second-degree burns and a severe spinal cord injury in an off-duty accident Wednesday, family and authorities said.

Garth Goodwin, a firefighter at Station 9, was working an off-duty job near McGregor, performing routine maintenance on a billboard, when he came in contact with high-voltage power lines. Goodwin, 46, was electrically shocked and fell about 10 feet from the billboard.

“Unable to move his legs, he laid there for an extended period of time until someone who lives close to the scene discovered him and called for help,” a family post on CaringBridge.org states.

Goodwin was taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center with extensive injuries and burns on his chest before he was taken by air-ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said. Goodwin is expected to need surgery and face a lengthy road to recovery.

“As firefighters, we are always going to address the needs of others, and oftentimes we don’t find ourselves being that person in need,” Tatum said. “It’s very humbling for firefighters, because normally we are the saviors as opposed to the person being saved. We are appreciative of the Waco community showing their support.”

Goodwin didn’t show up to pick up his son from school Wednesday afternoon, so his wife, Lisa, called trying to find him. A resident in McGregor heard the phone ringing and found Goodwin.

“It appears he was laying there for at least an hour,” Tatum said.

Tatum described Goodwin as a man devoted to his son and family who is well-respected firefighter with a “unique sense of humor.” He said he has heard Goodwin is in good spirits.

“One of the guys visiting him told him to keep his head up, and (Goodwin) said, ‘Well, that’s about the only thing I can do right now,’ ” Tatum said.

The Waco Firefighters Honor Guard is accepting donations to assist Goodwin and his family.

“I got a call from Steve Cook at the fire program at MCC. He was saying that Garth was one of his guys, that he trained him and knows him fondly,” Tatum said. “The Dallas Department sent their chaplain to Parkland so everything would be ready when Garth and his family got there.

“That just goes to show that although we wear many different badges, we’re all part of the same family.”

To make a donation to Goodwin’s recovery, checks can be made payable to Waco Firefighters Honor Guard, with “Movemeber/Garth” in the subject line and sent to 1016 Columbus Ave., Waco, TX, 76701. Donations can also be made at any Waco fire station.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

Recommended for you