Fallen Blowing Rock firefighter to be honored
A Blowing Rock firefighter killed in 2010 while returning from a training session will be remembered this weekend at the Eighth Annual North Carolina Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service.
The event will recognize 13 fallen firefighters this year from across the state, including 20-year-old Tommy Wright of Blowing Rock.
Wright died March 21, 2010, after the vehicle in which he was riding crashed near Marion while returning from a fire training session at McDowell Fire and Rescue College. The driver of the vehicle, fellow firefighter Jeremy Bolick, and a third man also died as a result of the collision.
Wright joined the fire department in September 2009 and was training to become a firefighter and paramedic, according to Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue.
"He wasn't with us for very long, but was full-throttle involved and wanted to volunteer to help people," said Chief Kent Graham.
Wright, a Watauga High School graduate, helped lead youth groups at two churches and played in the praise band at FaithBridge United Methodist Church.
"Everybody loved this kid," Graham said.
Several members of Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue who knew Wright will join his family in Raleigh for the memorial service, Graham said.
The events begin with a dinner tonight for families of fallen firefighters at the Raleigh Central Fire Station, followed by a candlelight service at the memorial site.
On Saturday morning, a parade will process through downtown Raleigh featuring vehicles from departments that have lost a firefighter in the line of duty. Senior Shift Captain Matt Fontaine will drive Blowing Rock's Engine 4 in the procession, and the Watauga County Firefighters' Association Honor Guard also will attend, Graham said.
A memorial service at the N.C. Fallen Firefighter Memorial will follow at 1 p.m. Saturday. The memorial includes a life-size bronze sculpture that portrays a fallen firefighter and his comrades on the scene of a building fire.
Brick walls surround the sculpture, with granite slabs engraved with the names of North Carolina firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
"We're just really, really honored and happy that they decided to recognize him," said Wright's father, Tom Wright Sr.
Wright said his son embraced the idea of serving
others through the fire department and would come home excited, talking about what he had learned
"He was more focused on that than anything I'd ever seen him be focused on," Wright said. "He seemed to really enjoy it."
Tommy Wright's name will now join one other firefighter from Blowing Rock on the memorial: Bruce Coffey, who died in 2003 after suffering a heart problem shortly after responding to a fire scene, Graham said.