Firefighter Lanphear was in the process of getting a haircut when his pager activated. He and the other members of his department were dispatched to a trash fire. Firefighter Lanphear began his response to the incident in his personal vehicle, a 1999 Grand Am.
Firefighter Lanphear approached an intersection that was controlled by a stop sign at a speed too great to stop. Although he attempted to stop prior to the stop sign, his vehicle began to skid. Firefighter Lanphear's vehicle overran the intersecting road, turned sideways to the left, and descended a steep embankment. The passenger side wheels of the vehicle were knocked off, the vehicle rolled twice, and the vehicle ended up on its roof.
Firefighter Lanphear, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected through the sunroof and pinned underneath the vehicle. Arriving rescue personnel pronounced Firefighter Lanphear dead at the scene. Extrication was later completed.
The cause of death was listed as head trauma.