On the early morning of Monday, January 20, 9-year-old Tyler Doohan noticed his grandfather’s home in Penfield, New York was on fire. Tyler woke up when his 4-year-old cousin’s blanket caught fire. He then woke up four adults and two children – ages 4 and 6 – who were sleeping. While trying to help his disabled grandfather get out of the trailer, they both died, as well as another relative.
On Wednesday, Tyler, his 54-year-old grandfather Stephen Smith, and his 63-year-old step-great-grandfather Lewis Beach were laid to rest. Their funerals were held at the St. John of Rochester Catholic Church.
Firefighters from all over Rochester, as well as some from as far as Buffalo, were in attendance wearing their dress blues and white gloves.
While holding a red and white helmet with Tyler’s name on it, Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer said, “This is a helmet we give to the family to symbolize that Tyler is indeed a part of the brotherhood of firefighters, as an honorary firefighter in Penfield.”
Tyler’s mother Crystal Vrooman said, “I wish you were here for me to hold you. I know you don’t want to see us sad, but we will see you again someday; and we will be happy again. You will never be forgotten.”
A basketball team from Silver Lake College of the Holy Family in Manitowoc, Wisconsin were so moved by Tyler’s heroism that they traveled overnight to serve as pallbearers. “The players were taken with the story. Our core values are compassion and community and we teach them that compassion has no limits and community has no boundaries. They looked at this as if it happened next door,” said Silver Lake College coach Phil Budervic.
Many took to Twitter to show their respects for such a young, brave boy.
God bless this very brave boy. #TylerDoohan
— jefe (@jeffholly) January 30, 2014
RIP Tyler Doohan. A true American hero. Only the good die young
— Megan Hey (@Meg_ann123) January 30, 2014
RIP to Tyler Doohan. Died saving 6 of his relatives from his grandfather's burning house in NY. Buddy was only 9.
— Kelechi Ohanu (@Kelechi_DVBS) January 30, 2014
The cause of the fire is currently being attributed to an electrical problem, but it is still under investigation.