Firefighter killed in accident
LYNDEBOROUGH – Last week, Derek Lankowski and his wife, Melissa Alexander, were getting ready to celebrate the 31/2-year anniversary of their wedding.
But on March 30, Melissa was driven to the Lyndeborough Fire Station, where a procession of fire trucks was getting ready to accompany a hearse that contained Derek’s body to a Jaffrey funeral home.
Lankowski, 31, of Lyndeborough, a firefighter with the Lyndeborough department for about eight years, died in a freak accident in Weare on March 29 after heavy winds blew a tree onto his pickup truck on Route 114.
He was off duty and driving south, likely coming home from work, said firefighters, who gathered at the Forest Road station in Lyndeborough last Wednesday morning to wait for the procession to begin and to drape the department’s sign – which said "Lost brother, but not forgotten" – in purple.
Lyndeborough Rescue Chief Don Cole described Lankowski as a warm-hearted man and said their families socialized.
Deputy Chief Kevin Berkebile said he worked with Lankowsi for three years at Casco Food Equipment Service in Manchester, and that they grew up together.
"He was just a fun, happy, outgoing guy," Berkebile said.
Lankowski was a 2003 graduate of Milford High School.
Weare rescue crews were called to Route 114 near John Stark Regional High School around 2:40 p.m. after the tree that fell on Lakowski’s pickup truck was blown down by strong winds, according to a statement issued by Weare police.
Police worked with state Department of Transportation and town School District officials to reroute buses from the school around the accident, since it occurred shortly before dismissal time.
Officers from Henniker and Weare Fire and Rescue members also assisted at the scene, police said.
"He was the type of guy that would do anything for anyone; he would always have stories to tell and got along with everyone he met," Berkebile wrote on the department’s Facebook page. "Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife, family and friends."
Lankowski served about seven years with the department, left for a while and had been back about three months when the accident occurred.
"He was a great guy," longtime Lyndeborough firefighter Sherry Whitmore said.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.