WARREN - City firefighter Marc J. Titus is being remembered as a dedicated employee who took his job very personally and as a family man who warmly expressed love.
Titus, 46, of Cortland, was killed in an accident late Thursday night when his 2006 Yamaha Road Star ran into a overturned dump truck on state Route 11.
Warren Fire Chief Kenneth Nussle said he was devastated when he learned of Titus' death at about six minutes before midnight.
"Firefighters are suffering today," Nussle said Friday. "They lost a good firefighter and a dear friend."
Titus had just left a performance in Niles by Warren blues Guitarist Damian Knapp.
''We had dinner after my show,'' Knapp said. ''It couldn't have been more than five minutes after he left that this happened. I was the last guy he talked to. It's just too surreal. It's just too heartbreaking.''
He said he and Titus were friends for 25 years, meeting when Knapp at age 12 took guitar lessons from Titus' best friend, Joe Armstrong.
''The last thing he did was watch me play guitar,'' Knapp said. ''He was supportive.''
Ohio State Highway Patrol officials say they are treating the investigation as two separate crashes.
The first involved James Black Jr., 49, of Sharon, Pa., driving a 2002 Peterbilt tractor with a partially raised 1993 East Dump Bed trailer north on Route 11. The dump bed hit the Kings Graves Road bridge overpass, causing the tractor trailer to flip onto its side on the right side of the road.
Shortly after the truck flipped, Titus, traveling north in the right lane on his motorcycle, ran into the overturned vehicle.
Titus, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown off his motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Black was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital for treatment of what troopers described as ''non life-threatening injuries.''
Patrol spokesman Lt. B.T. Holt said the bridge ''sustained minor damage."
Titus joined the Warren Fire Department in April 1991. Over the last eight years, he served as the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 204.
Titus lead local efforts last year to repeal Senate Bill 5, a law that would have limited the rights of public employee unions in collective bargaining.
The former Marine also was among several Warren firefighters given the State Fire Marshal's Award for Heroism for pulling four people from a burning group home in a Bonnie Brae arson case in 2009.
Mayor and former safety-service director Doug Franklin often sat on the opposite side of the negotiating table from Titus.
"He was a great negotiator and a greater firefighter," Franklin said. "I know for a fact that he took his job as a firefighter to heart. He trained very hard to be the best firefighter. He took losses very personally"
Franklin described getting to know Titus in between negotiating sessions and in other environments.
"He would always talk about his daughters and his family," Franklin said. "When he was not at work, he would dedicate all of his energies to his family. He was a family man, and his children are going to miss him."
Jeff Koehn, a longtime friend and a former colleague, described Titus as a big guy with a big heart.
"He was the kind of guy who could start or stop a fight with just a look," he said. "He was very loyal. He was the kind of guy who you could call and he would drop anything he was doing to help you.
"He was born and raised in Warren and the community was his whole life," Koehn said. "Although he did not live in the city in recent years, everything he did was geared to his family and to the city."
Titus saved many lives, Koehn said. "He has always gone above and beyond duty. He was dedicated to the fire department. He was very staunch about keeping Warren and the fire department moving forward.''
Kerri Rickard of Niles described Titus as a close personal friend who was like a brother.
"I met him about six years ago when I was experiencing a bad time," Rickard described. "We would tell each other jokes. His jokes were so bad."
They talked a lot about family and about life.
"He cared so much about his daughters," she said. "He was a really good man."