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Longtime Mercer Co. firefighter dies after battle with COVID-19

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:29 PM EDT
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MERCER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - A longtime firefighter in Mercer County has died from COVID-19.

William Thompson, known to many as Sonny, dedicated more than 50 years to the fire department.

“Firefighters, we take care of our community, take care of people we don’t know, that we’ve never seen,” Mercer County fire chief Richard Maxfield said. “So when it comes to one of our own, they’ve taken care of us at some time and helped us out so we’re always making sure we’re there for them when they need us and their family needs us.”

Maxfield was among dozens of public safety officers involved in an escort to honor the life of William “Sonny” Thompson.

Most recently an assistant chief at the Shakertown station, Sonny came down with COVID back in July.

“Sonny’s story is not unlike a lot of others, whether they’re in the fire service or not. We’ve been dealing with COVID for two years now and in our business, we unfortunately take a lot of risks and get exposed a lot more,” Maxfield said.

Sonny’s lifetime of service began when he was just a young man, back in 1969.

Over the years, he had been a mentor to hundreds of fellow firefighters.

“Sonny was always there to help people. He was always there not just for the community, but if someone was trying to learn something at the station or at training, he could help them out,” Maxfield said. “He’d always take them aside or give them a hand learning this, that or the other.”

And despite all the work he had done, Sonny never wanted to be in the spotlight.

“To be honest with you, Sonny wouldn’t want all this. Sonny probably would want us to go to the lake, sit out on the dock and tell stories,” Maxfield said. “He would probably be giving us a hard time that we’re making such a fuss about him, that’s the kind of guy he was.”

Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced over the weekend.

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