Five-years-ago April 16 also fell on a Monday and the week started off with some very bad news. Shortly after breakfast, word started coming in from a number of sources that a firefighter had been killed in a house fire in Prince William County, Virginia. Of course it was a big news event in the area and my job was to try and confirm some information about the fire for our morning news broadcasts while WUSA-TV, the station I worked for and our competitors began sending news crews to the fire scene.
This fire occurred a little less than three weeks before the birth of STATter911.com, but even without the blog, covering the fire service in the Washington, DC area was part of my beat as a TV reporter. I was able to get some preliminary information, confirmed from various sources, including career and volunteer firefighters in Prince William County. As I finished getting dressed for work it was obvious where I would soon be headed and what my news story would be for the day, and probably days to come. But I never got there and the large majority of the news crews already at 15492 Marsh Overlook Drive were suddenly told by their editors and assignment desks to leave the scene of the fire.
Most were told to head toward the southwestern portion of Virginia, to the town of Blacksburg, as word started filtering in of a double shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall at Virginia Tech. It had occurred about an hour after the fire was reported on Marsh Overlook Drive. Then two hours later there was more gunfire on campus at Norris Hall. In the hours to come the number of dead and wounded would climb to become the deadliest massacre by a single gunman in U.S. History.
But back at Marsh Overlook Drive, Technician I Kyle Robert Wilson was dead and for the most part there was barely a mention in the local news. Even though I, as much as anyone, understand why it was that way, it is something that always bothered me and still does. In my on-air role during the week, reviewing Internet and social media sources of Virginia Tech news and videos, I found a few opportunities to remind people that a firefighter also had died. It was far from adequate as far as I was concerned.
So that is why I want to make an extra effort to ask you to remember Kyle Wilson and his family tomorrow on the fifth anniversary of his death. It will once again, and unfortunately always, be overshadowed by another important and tragic anniversary. But as we know that does not diminish the sacrifice made by this young firefighter and the loss felt by his family and friends.
Also on STATter911 …
- Another parade for Kyle: Saying goodbye to a brave 12-year-old boy who wanted to be a firefighter like his dad. – May 11, 2012
- Courage for Kyle. Get your bracelet. Here’s an update from Barnegat, New Jersey. – January 29, 2012
- Christmas story continues: Kyle McGetrick, who had a fire truck parade at his home, is made Barnegat mayor. Family & FD thank fire service. Plus, a look at other places where fire & EMS are making a difference. – December 25, 2011
- Kyle McGetrick to be interviewed on fire service radio show. Barnegat, NJ boy to talk about the patches firefighters sent him from around the world. – January 23, 2012
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