NORTH ANDOVER — When the 911 calls reporting a single-car crash in North Andover came in during the early morning hours Sunday, Firefighter Kristofer Jenkins, who was on ambulance duty, was among the first to respond to the scene.
Jenkins immediately recognized the gray sport utility vehicle that had spun off the road and into trees on Salem Street around 4 a.m. It belonged to his younger brother, Keith, who was killed in the accident.
“I don’t think anything prepares you for this type of situation,” said North Andover Fire Chief Andrew V. Melnikas. “It can’t hit much closer to home.”
When Kristofer Jenkins arrived at the scene, the SUV, which had come to rest less than a mile from the Jenkins family home, was empty.
He and his partner decided to drive the ambulance to the house to see if Keith Jenkins had walked there, Melnikas said.
‘I don’t think anything prepares you for this type of situation. It can’t hit much closer to home.’
At the same time, a team of police, firefighters, and paramedics searched the wooded area near the SUV and found Keith Jenkins, 23, who was pronounced dead, Melnikas said.
A fire lieutenant called Kristofer Jenkins and told him not to return to the scene.
“You wouldn’t want that,” Melnikas said. “That would live with you forever.”
A man who answered the door at the Jenkins home Monday said no one was available to comment. About half a dozen cars lined the side of the road, as visitors stopped by, some carrying flowers.
For the past five or six years, Keith Jenkins worked as a part-time waiter at the Loft on Osgood Street in North Andover, said owner Jim Dietz.
Rosemary Connelly Smedile, a member of the Board of Selectmen, said she got to know him a little bit from the times she and her husband went to the Loft.
“He was always smiling,” Connelly Smedile said. “He was happy-go-lucky and a charming young man.”
Since the accident, Melnikas said, he has been in contact with Kristofer Jenkins, a Marine who served in Afghanistan from 2011 through last February.
Jenkins, 25, joined the Fire Department in November 2010, and within months was deployed overseas. After his return, he completed his duties at the fire academy, and was officially sworn in this August, Melnikas said.
“If you know Kris, he’s very stoic. I’m sure he’s shocked. Fortunately, he didn’t physically see’’ his brother’s body, Melnikas said.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation, said North Andover police Lieutenant Charles P. Gray.
Keith Jenkins appeared to have been driving south on Salem Street, a heavily traveled residential road, near Campbell Road. The posted speed limit there is 35 miles per hour, Gray said.
Keith Jenkins’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston for an autopsy and toxicology tests, Gray said.
He urged anyone with any information about Sunday’s crash to call the North Andover Police Department at 978-683-3168.