CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Johnston firefighter died Tuesday afternoon after crashing his motorcycle in Cranston, Eyewitness News has learned.
According to Maj. Todd Patalano from the Cranston Police Department, Richard Gemma, 45, of Cranston crashed his motorcycle on Belgium Street near Felicia Drive.
Patalano said Gemma was approaching a left-hand turn onto Felicia Drive when his front tire hit the curb, causing the motorcycle to veer suddenly.
An investigation into the crash revealed Gemma was thrown from the motorcycle and hit his head on the pavement. Patalano said he was not wearing a helmet.
Gemma was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital with a traumatic head injury and was later pronounced dead, according to Patalano.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing, though Patalano said speed does not appear to be a factor. At this point, it is unclear what caused Gemma to hit the curb.
Patalano said Gemma served as a firefighter for the Johnston Fire Department. Johnston Fire Chief Peter Lamb said the crash occurred while Gemma was off duty.
Gemma leaves behind three children, according to Lamb. He was a six-year member of the Johnston Fire Department.
“We work together, we’re very close knit; we eat together, work together. Everything in the fire department is a team, and suddenly one of our own is taken from us,” Lamb said. “Everyone here cares about him deeply, and we’re quite taken back.”
Gemma’s childhood friend Kenneth Low says his kindness will be missed.
“A couple Christmases ago, he adopted my family. I’m a single dad. He reached out and bought us all stuff for Christmas, which I could not afford at the time,” Low said. “Lots of memories, he’s a good guy.”
The Johnston Fire Department lowered the flag outside the station to half staff Wednesday in honor of Gemma.