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Funeral, procession held for Fort Osage fire chief who died in line of duty

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LEXINGTON, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Friday a community mourned the loss of a fallen firefighter who died in the line of duty.

Harold Hollingsworth, 47, was the assistant fire chief in Fort Osage. He was killed Sunday when he crashed on his way to a fire in rural Jackson County. A 16-year veteran with Fort Osage, he was driving to a fire during a severe thunderstorm Sunday night when his fire department SUV slid off the road and hit a tree.

When one service man dies in the line of duty, it impacts an entire community of emergency responders and their families. That was clear Friday as hundreds said goodbye to Fort Osage Fire District's Assistant Fire Chief.

Men and women from nearly 30 neighboring fire departments stood behind Allison Hollingsworth and her two sons as they took the most difficult walk anyone could imagine.

Hollingsworth's Mic-O-Say tribe bid farewell in ritual form while others, like Hollinsworth's first partner at the Fort Osage Fire District Tim Brown, said goodbye with lighthearted memories.

"What I want to share with you is in spirit of Harold, some of the things I think he'd want me to say. (looks back at fire chief sitting behind him) Just remember that chief," Brown said as his statement was followed with laughter from the crowd.

It was a graveside service that illustrated what every fireman prays to avoid, but every now and then must face.

"If according to my fate I lose my life, please bless with Your protecting hand my children and my wife," Fire Chief John Yocum said as he recited the fireman's prayer.

The prayer is an all-too-familiar verse for servicemen and women.

Friday's service was held at the high school in Lexington, MO, at 1 p.m. After the funeral, a procession of fire trucks will escort Hollingsworth's body to the cemetery.

More than four neighboring departments took on duties for the Fort Osage Fire Department so that its crews could properly say goodbye to Hollingsworth Friday.

Todd Farley, an assistant fire chief with the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, said it's the first time a Fort Osage firefighter has died in the line of duty.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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