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Erica Broughton to be remembered at benefit

Posted: January 14, 2014 3:03 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

To say that Erica Marshall Broughton will be missed by those who knew her is an understatement. According to her family, she was beloved by her friends, family and community members. Broughton, a postal employee, volunteer firefighter and youth leader, died following a single vehicle accident in November near Bethune at the age of 26.

Abney Baptist Church will host a bake sale and luncheon Jan. 24 to benefit her husband, Derek, and son, Brayden.

Derek described his wife as “a very wonderful person and a hero to many” including himself and Brayden

“She has left a legacy for us as firefighters to carry on because of her love for it and the determination she had in doing her best at everything,” Derek said.

He said Erica never complained about being tired or ready to go home. The couple even spent their anniversary assisting at a car accident.

“We loved doing everything together,” Derek said. “That’s why we were such good partners in life and in a fire. We took every firefighter class together and we enjoyed the time we had together.”

Buffalo-Mt. Pisgah Fire Department Chief Chris Jones worked closely with the Broughtons and said he was very impressed by Erica’s worth ethic.

“She was very dedicated,” Jones said. “She stuck with the fire department even after having her son. In 2011, she received the First Responder of the Year Award, so that shows how much people thought about her.”

Jones described Erica as a quiet person, but “tough and strong-willed.” He said that she never turned down a challenge.

“Anything you threw at her, she’d do it,” he said.

He remarked that Erica led “a humble Christian life,” a fact also commented upon by David Turner, pastor at Abney Church where Erica and Derek were members.

“Erica and Derek worked with the youth here,” Turner said, noting that Derek continues to do so. “They were a great team.”

He said Erica taught Bible lessons to the youth and assisted Derek when he taught.

“They participated in different activities with the youth,” Turner said. “They did lock-ins, took the kids to events and, under their leadership, 15 youths came to know Christ.”

He described the couple as being very committed to the church and said that even after having a child, Erica was just as involved as she had always been “with the youth, the church and everything…she was just a great gal and we miss her terribly.”

Erica’s high school friends, Stephanie Rone and Ashley Williams, both remarked on her devotion to God.

“Erica was a very Godly person, even in high school,” Rone said.

She said Erica exhibited “unconditional love” towards her friends and family.

“If you were her friend, you were definitely her friend,” Rone said.

Williams said Erica had a “heart of gold” and that though she was typically a quiet person “she never backed down from a challenge.”

Erica’s dedicated, take-charge spirit was something Darlington County Fire District Chief Jacob Patrick, an instructor at the S.C. Fire Academy, was particularly struck by as well. Patrick led the class Derek and Erica attended to become firefighters.

“I give out nicknames in my classes, and Erica did something I had never seen before,” Patrick said.

He said the class included a ladder training component and Erica was trying to extend a ladder by pulling on a rope connected to it.

“The rope was sticking, so I told her to pull hard,” Patrick said. “When she yanked on it, she broke the rope. I’d never seen that happen before. We started calling her Mighty Mouse after that.”

Patrick said he became close to Derek and Erica as the pair would often arrive 15 to 20 minutes early and talk to him about their son and other events in their lives.

“When I heard about the accident, and I heard it was Erica, it really hit me,” he said. “It was almost like losing a family member. That’s the first time something like that has happened to one of my students.”

Patrick said Erica’s dedication would be missed by everyone who knew her.

Along with firefighting, Erica also worked at the Cassatt Post Office. Her aunt, Lynn Joyner, worked with her and described her as being just as dedicated in her work as she was in all other areas of her life.

“Erica was so determined; she wanted to reach her goals,” Joyner said.

She and Erica shared the first half hour of their work days together, something Joyner said she will cherish and miss greatly.

“We got to work before anyone else did and that was our time to talk. She’d show me pictures of Brayden,” Joyner said. “It was so hard to go back to work without her.”

She helps babysit Brayden while Derek is at work and said that she strives to help raise him the way “Erica would have wanted.” She said her nephew “looks more like Erica everyday.”

Joyner said she would be attending the benefit dinner as a way to honor Erica’s memory while helping out her husband and son.

Jones and the rest of the fire department, along with the Bethune and Mt. Pisgah communities, Abney Baptist Church and several other local churches, are coordinating the benefit.

“It’s a team effort,” Jones said. “The areas out here are really good about coming together. The community is very supportive. They want to help this family.”

The benefit will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue all day. The $8 meal will include pork loin, baked beans, cole slaw, bread and dessert. Further donations are also appreciated, with checks made payable to Broughton Fund. For more information, contact Jones at 427-5053 or 475-8147.

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