Youngstown Fire Dept. mourns loss of Battalion Chief Russo

He passed away just before 4 p.m. Friday afternoon after a motorcycle crash

Youngstown Fire Dept Battalion Chief Russo

SAYBROOK TWP., (WKBN) – The Youngstown Fire Department is mourning the death of one of their own — Battalion Chief Ronald Russo passed away Friday afternoon.

Just before 1 p.m., the Ohio State Highway Patrol Ashtabula Post got a phone call about a car crash involving a van and a motorcycle.

The Ashtabula Post said Russo was riding his motorcycle northbound along State Route 45 when a van traveling westbound on North Bend Road failed to yield at one of the stop signs of the intersection.

According to a press release, this caused Russo’s motorcycle to hit the van as he continued traveling north.

He was taken to the Ashtabula County Medical Center, then flown via medical helicopter to University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

He passed away just before 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

“He was a firefighter’s firefighter,” Mayor John McNally said. “He loved the job, everyday.”

“The saying goes, they’re the ones who are running in when everybody’s running out,” McNally added. “And Ronnie, based on what his fellow officers have told me, loved to do that.”

Officials say Russo was wearing a helmet and 48-year-old Josephine Palmer, the driver of the van, was wearing her seat belt.

Palmer was not hurt, but charges are pending against her for the accident.

Also in the van were 55-year-old Michael Mitchell and 57-year-old Carol Mitchell. Both were also not injured and were wearing their seat belts.

Russo was with his brother, who was also driving a motorcycle. He was able to swerve around the van.

Several firefighters, along with Youngstown Fire Station #9, have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a badge with a black line through it, symbolizing the loss of one of their own.

Russo was 64 years old.

Alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.

Ronald Russo Obituary

WKBN has set up an online form for viewers to leave memories of how Russo touched their lives, as well as messages of condolence for the family.

Leave your message below (If you are viewing this on the WKBN app, click here to view the form on


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