Minister Praises Courage Of Firefighter Killed In Line Of Duty Thomas Hicks Remembered By Co-workers And Officials

December 23, 1990|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Thomas E. Hicks showed the courage it takes for firefighters to risk their lives for others, said a minister in his eulogy for the Pylesville fireman killed in the line of duty last week.

The Rev. Douglas Winward, of Fawn Grove, Pa., urged the dozens of firefighters attending services for Hicks on Thursday to calm their fears and continue helping others.

"Look to the needs of others and the fear of the risks will be driven away," said Winward, minister of the Faith Presbyterian Church. "Tom showed us how to do it best."

Hicks, 44, was killed when the fire engine he was riding to a call collided with a car at the intersection of Rock Spring and Whiteford roads at 9 p.m. Sunday, state police at Benson said.

The collision caused the 1987 International fire engine to roll over, trapping Hicks under the vehicle. The volunteer firefighter died of multiple injuries at University Hospital's Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore Monday morning.

Hicks, who worked as an agent for the state Motor Vehicle Administration, and his wife Leslie had been married for 20 years. They had two daughters, Holly, 11, and Marianne, 7.

More than 250 people, including many police officers and firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania, attended the funeral services for Hicks at Foster Funeral Home in Bel Air.

Many of the mourners wept quietly as Winward, chaplain of the fire company, recalled that Hicks was always willing to help others -- regardless of the risks he faced.

Hicks's death, Winward said, shows the vulnerability all firefighters face every time they answer a call for help. Because of his death, some firefighters may want to resign, but Winward urged them to continue answering the needs of others.

"Tom's death raises the question of why we take those risks," Winward said. "The answer to that is that without the risk, there is no gain."

A color guard of state police troopers, Baltimore County police officers, and firefighters from Howard County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City stood motionless as Winward gave the eulogy.

Following the services, a procession traveled to Mount Zion Cemetery in Churchville for graveside services.

A bagpipe player in traditional Scottish dress played "Amazing Grace" as pallbearers carried Hicks's casket to the grave site. The hymn was repeated as state troopers folded the Maryland flag blanketing the coffin.

The flag was then presented to Hicks's wife Leslie by County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, who lives near Pylesville.

When the services ended, a uniformed firefighter played taps as uniformed police and fire fighters stood at attention.

Many of the mourners stopped at Hicks's casket for a final farewell as they left the grave site . A red carnation lay on top of the coffin.

Family friends have established the Thomas E. Hicks Memorial Fund for the family. Donations can be sent to 5002 W. Heaps Road, Pylesville, MD 21132.

Four other firefighters on the truck from Citizens Volunteer Fire Co. of Fawn Grove, Pa., were injured in the accident. One firefighter, Erwin W.

Cooke, 48, of Pylesville, is in serious condition at the shock trauma unit.

The crew was responding to a cardiac emergency on Archer Road near the Pennsylvania border when the crash occurred, said Gregory M. Skinner, spokesman for the fire company.

State police said the fire engine, driven by Cletus N. Heaps, 55, of Pylesville, went through a stop sign and crashed into a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro driven by David E. Brode, 19, of Fallston. Brode was not injured.

The fire truck had its emergency sirens and lights activated, police said.

No citations have been issued as a result of the accident.

Hicks is the second county firefighter to be killed in the line of duty this year. Thomas Weeks, 32, of Havre de Grace, was killed on Aug. 25 when he crashed his car while responding to a service call.

The Citizens Fire Co. has stations in Fawn Grove and Norrisville and responds to calls in nearby areas of Harford County and York County, Pa.

Hicks joined the 65-member fire company as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in 1985, Skinner said. He was a member of the company's board of directors and was recently elected lieutenant of the ambulance crew.

Hicks was named his fire company's top ambulance responder in 1988, for answering more service calls than any other member, Skinner said. It could not be determined how many calls Hicks had answered that year.

"He was extremely active," Skinner said. "He was a very valuable fellow."

Skinner said Hicks was often the center of attention at the company's gatherings. He was well liked for his willingness to serve as a leader and to help others.

Donald Amati, one of Hicks' co-workers at the MVA, said Hicks was always willing to offer a shoulder to lean on when someone needed help.

Amati added that he and his co-workers will always cherish Hicks's friendship.

"We love you, Tom," Amati said. "You will be missed, but never forgotten."

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