EMMITSBURG, MD (Gray DC) -- This weekend, two Bureau of Land Management firefighters who died in the line of duty last year received national recognition. Loved ones and fellow firefighters made the trip from Nevada to Maryland for an annual ceremony honoring the fallen.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been reminded once again of the dangers that our first responders have to go through on a daily basis," said Michael Toombs, Bureau of Land Management Acting District Manager.
On July 10th, 2016, 27-year-old Jacob O’Malley and 22-year-old engine operator Will Hawkins were heading back to the station from an assignment. But the young men with their whole lives ahead of them never made it back.
"Jake and Will lost their lives on that tragic day," said Toombs.
O'Malley, Hawkins and a third firefighter were involved in an accident.
"Our two heroes that perished last year were in a vehicle on the way back to the station from a duty assignment so it’s not always something that when they’re out fighting a fire or engaging somebody else - it can be dropping a vehicle back to the firehouse or to the station after a long day," said Toombs.
Their names now among 95 recognized this weekend at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Events held over the weekend drew hundreds of family members, friends and fellow firefighters to this site to honor their loved ones. They are also able to visit the new plaque that has all the names of the firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2016.
“They’re grieving. And this is a tough time for them and it brings back a lot of memories, but that’s what we’re here for to help them rebuild their lives and pull things back together with the loss of their firefighter," said Ron Siarnicki , Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Association.