By Lisa Scagliotti
and Mike Donoghue
Family, co-workers and friends are mourning the loss of a popular member of the Hinesburg Volunteer Fire Department who died July 4 and whose death remains under investigation by Vermont State Police this week.
Pamela E. Price, 24, died from a gunshot wound to her head at her mobile home on Hemlock Road, off Vermont 2A in St. George, according to state police.
Two state police detectives are investigating the circumstances of Price’s death, which Lt. Lance Burnham said Monday is “not considered suspicious.” However, Burnham said he could not yet say whether the incident was an accident or self-inflicted.
With the absence of any conclusions from investigators, people in the community are looking for answers. “We are battling a rumor mill blowing out of proportion,” Burnham said. The rumors were fueled in part by the lack of a state police news release about the shooting death.
Dr. Elizabeth Bundock, Vermont’s chief deputy medical examiner, ruled the manner of Price’s death was “pending investigation,” according to her preliminary death certificate.
Hinesburg Fire Chief Al Barber called Price “a valued member” of the department for the past five years. She was a firefighter and an emergency medical responder and her death has hit the tightly knit 50-member department particularly hard, Barber told the The Citizen.
Price had two small children and Barber described her as “a loving, caring mother” to her 4-year-old daughter, Aubrie, and her 2-month-old son, Joseph.
“That caring and kindness carried over to her interactions with other department members and the public while on calls,” Barber wrote in a post on the department’s Facebook page. “We are all deeply saddened and hope the community supports her family and children during this tragic time.”
Price did whatever she needed to do to help people, whether she was responding to emergency calls or working at the fire station, the chief said.
A black mourning band has been added across the color logo on the department’s Facebook page, which has garnered a collection of comments, condolences and remembrances from family, friends, former classmates, and other public safety personnel in the area.
Price’s mother, Kimberly Davis, posted a note thanking who have expressed support for her family since her daughter’s death: “During this horrific time of unexpected loss, our family, her siblings, parents and grandparents greatly appreciate the community support we have experienced. Pam was a loving, generous, trusting soul and truly enjoyed working on the fire department. As her mother, I know nothing made her happier, except time with her babies.”
Price was a 2011 graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School and had been attending Champlain College. She had previously worked in the billing department at the University of Vermont Medical Center and was employed as an assistant manager at Aspen Dental, according to her obituary.
Lt. Burnham said the investigation involves forensic information, evidence and interviews. He said multiple 911 emergency calls were made on July 4, the first shortly after 6 p.m., with reports that someone had been shot.
Since then, police have been conducting interviews to better understand the circumstances of what led up to the tragic incident. “We don’t have anything that says right now that this is a homicide,” Burnham said.
Visiting hours and a funeral were held this week at the North Ferrisburgh Methodist Church. The family has established an online fundraising link —givebutter.com/t5v605 —to help with funeral and legal expenses. As of Wednesday, it had reached 30 percent of its $12,000 goal.
Click here for Pam Price’s obituary.