Ken Hedrick helped rescue 7-year-old Shawn Sanchez from his burning house last Jan. 12, in Suitland, near Andrews Air Force Base. Without pause, he plunged back into the burning building to search for more victims.
But the 18-year-old volunteer firefighter never returned. He was killed when shelving collapsed on him. Shawn died of burns an hour later at a hospital.
Firefighter Hedrick was the youngest of the five Maryland public safety officers to die on duty in the past year and who were given special honors yesterday at the seventh annual Fallen Heroes Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
At the time of his death, Kenneth Michael Hedrick had been a member of the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department for two years and planned a career in firefighting.
"He sort of grew up in the fire department," said his father, Leslie Hedrick, who as chief of the Morningside volunteers was also his son's boss.
"It's tough to lose a son or any firefighter," Chief Hedrick said yesterday. "It is very caring that so many people from around Maryland are here to honor them."
Nineteen Maryland police and fire agencies sent uniformed delegations to the ceremony, which opened with a colorful procession of flag-carrying honor guards led by the John F. Nicoll Pipe Band of Baltimore County.
About 700 people, including many public officials, crowded under the 100-by-60-foot white marquee set up in front of the Fallen Heroes Memorial, bearing a bronze relief of a police officer and a firefighter carrying a little girl.
Politicians and public safety officials presented small replicas of the Fallen Heroes Memorial to the families of the five men.
Besides Firefighter Hedrick those honored yesterday were:
* Firefighter Eddie Arthur, 37, a 14-year veteran of the Baltimore City department, who was killed June 1 during a training exercise with a hook-and-ladder truck.
* Officer Thomas R. Crouch, 52, a 24-year veteran of the Maryland Toll Facilities Police, who died after being struck by a car on U.S. 50 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
* Firefighter Clyde A. Burley, 74, a 42-year veteran of the Corriganville Volunteer Fire Company in Allegany County, who was fatally injured in November while directing traffic at an auto accident scene.
* Firefighter Herbert B. Campbell, 63, of the Middle River Volunteer Fire Company, who suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to a fire in March. Mr. Campbell, who retired after 33 years with the Baltimore Fire Department, had served as a volunteer for 10 years. He was a fourth-generation firefighter, and his son is a Middle River volunteer.
In 1976, the late John W. Armiger Sr. set aside 330 burial spaces in the cemetery, free of charge, for Maryland law enforcement officers and firefighters, emergency medical and rescue officers and correctional officers who die in the line of duty.
Since 1977, 19 men have been interred there.