TYLER DOOHAN: BEYOND BRAVE
The love of a child is so pure and profound that it can lead even a frail little body to overcome mighty obstacles and to make great sacrifices. Jesus Christ loved children profoundly and associated their characteristics with those of the Heavenly host: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Luke 18:16.
It was the pure love of a child combined with extraordinary heroism that led 9 year old Tyler Doohan to do the extraordinary.
On January 20, Tyler lay asleep with 8 other relatives in a 14 foot by 60 foot mobile home in Penfield, New York. At about 4:45AM, a fire believed to have been electrical in origin engulfed the trailer. Chris Ebmeyer, the Chief of the Penfield Volunteer Fire Company, told the Associated Press that Tyler awoke when he realized that the blanket covering his sleeping 4 year old cousin was in flames.
Tyler then went through the trailer and awoke each of six relatives, helping each escape the escalating inferno to safety outdoors. The boy then went back into the fire to the room where his grandfather lay sleeping in an effort to rescue him. Tyler’s grandfather was an amputee.
Firefighters found Tyler’s body a few feet from his grandfather’s. They also found Tyler’s uncle dead in another part of the trailer.
A sheriff’s deputy and a firefighter arrived at the mobile home within one minute of the dispatch call. The trailer was already engulfed in flames, making any effort at rescue impossible.
Tyler Doohan demonstrated bravery far beyond the limits of his 8 years, saving six of his relatives, including his grandmother, two children, two women, and a man. He died trying to save his grandfather.
This brave little boy made the ultimate sacrifice so that others might live. Tyler was possessed of a precious spirit and a divine mission which he fulfilled.
Tyler’s story has touched hearts around the world. On January 29, the day of his funeral, more than 100 firefighters assembled at St. John of Rochester Catholic Church in Fairport, New York. Wearing their dress blues and white gloves, firefighters stood reverently inside the church lobby and outside firefighters directed traffic. Fire trucks became a part of the funeral procession.
Reporting on the event, the local CBS affiliate observed that Penfield Fire Chief Ebmeyersolemnly greeted Tyler’s mother, handing hera red and white helmet with a shield that bore Tyler’s name. As he handed Tyler’s mother the helmet, he said of Tyler, “We consider him an honorary firefighter.”
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The basketball team from the Silver Lake College of the Holy Family in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, traveled to Fairport to be Tyler’s pallbearers. They had heard of Tyler’s story and were so moved they wanted to help as best they could.
Tyler received in death a tribute befitting the status he attained in life; and through memory of his heroism Tyler has conquered death and lives on in each of us.
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