Fallen Firefighter Honored in Lewes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Fallen Firefighter Honored in Lewes

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Firefighters from across the peninsula were in the procession Wednesday morning Firefighters from across the peninsula were in the procession Wednesday morning
Volunteer firefighter Tim McClanahan had spent the last 15 years working for the Lewes Fire Department (Source: WBOC) Volunteer firefighter Tim McClanahan had spent the last 15 years working for the Lewes Fire Department (Source: WBOC)
The family of McClanahan watched on, as his casket was carried inside the funeral home (Source: WBOC) The family of McClanahan watched on, as his casket was carried inside the funeral home (Source: WBOC)

LEWES, Del. - It was a somber day for firefighters up and down the Delmarva peninsula on Wednesday morning, as hundreds gathered for the procession of Tim McClanahan. The 46-year-old volunteer firefighter died Monday night when he fell from a Delaware State Police helicopter during a training exercise. McClanahan was a member of the Delaware Air Rescue Team (DART), as well as a volunteer at Station 82 in Lewes for the last 15 years. 

On Wednesday morning, the body of McClanahan was transported from the Medical Examiner's office in Wilmington to a funeral home in Lewes, accompanied by a procession of nearly 100 trucks and emergency vehicles. That included firefighters from dozens of stations in all three Delaware counties, and beyond. 

Glenn Marshall, from the Lewes Fire Department, said that it was heartwarming to see so many firefighters come together. 

"Just the units that were there was amazing," he said. "But to see throughout the travel route and the escort on the way up and back was overwhelming." 

At nearly every overpass along Route One, there were firefighters set up with American flags draping. When McClanahan's body finally arrived at Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, dozens gathered around the hearse, and saluted the casket, before McClanahan was carried inside. Lewes Fire Chief Gordon Davis said it was emotional. 

"The whole Delaware fire service community," he said. "And really beyond Delaware fire service community is really taken a blow. This is such a tragic accident. So unexpected from a person that was well-trained. It's just going to take a little while to recover from." 

According to Delaware State Police Sgt. Richard Bratz, a preliminary investigation revealed the DSP Aviation Unit was conducting a routine training exercise with DART at around 6:45 p.m. Monday, when McClanahan fell out of the helicopter at the Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown, Del.

Bratz said that during the training exercise, a pilot and trooper medic were on board, along with the two volunteer firefighters, which included McClanahan. As McClanahan stepped out onto the skid of the helicopter, he fell out of the aircraft, and onto a grassy area below. At that point, the helicopter landed and the trooper medic and volunteer firefighter on board, as well as nearby volunteer firefighters, rushed over to the fallen victim and immediately rendered medical assistance.

Friend and former firefighter John Hazzard said he can rest easier knowing one thing about the incident.

"He died doing what he loved," he said. "He loved being on that helicopter. And unfortunate things happened. But he died doing what he loved. That's for sure." 

The procession of nearly 100 emergency vehicles was a sign of respect for McClanahan from his firefighter family.  Some firefighters on hand Wednesday may have never even met McClanahan, while others may have saved lives with him over the years.

"His first five years and four months he spent in Milton, at the Milton Fire Department right here, and he's still an honorary member here as well," said Johnny Hopkins of the Milton Fire Department.  "I trained with him many many hours and responded to many alarms over that period of five years."

Several members of different fire departments WBOC spoke with on Wednesday called the fire service an extended family.  And when a brother is lost, the rest of the family responds.

"It's what we do in the fire service in the state of Delaware.  And not just in the state of Delaware, but all over," said Joey Pepper of the Georgetown Fire Department.  "It's something that once you become a member of a fire company, you're accepted by your peers, you're automatically part of the brother or sisterhood."

The brotherhood will be out in full force once again this weekend for McClanahan's funeral.

"We're going to come together and we're going to pay our respects for Timmy and his family during this," Hopkins said.  "We'll come together and give him a proper final call."

Also on the Web: WBOC Facebook Live video of the procession for Lewes Firefighter Tim McClanahan.

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