As the sun set last Wednesday, a solemn and short ceremony took place to remember Wellington heroes who died in the line of duty.
“They are gone but not forgotten,” said police chief Tim Barfield after the ceremony.
Standing quietly to the side were Allan and Cathy Anderson.
“We come here whenever there is anything to do with it,” said Cathy, whose son Allan Jr., a Wellington firefighter, drowned while rescuing two teenagers June 22, 2006.
A five-inch rainfall created flash flood conditions on a branch of the Black River when the teens got into high water after having driven around a road closure sign. Anderson was an experienced diver with swift water experience.
“It’s very touching and brings back a lot of memories,” said Cathy. “I’m glad Wellington takes time to honor the fallen. Today people take so many lives for granted and Wellington has so many special heroes.”
“We’re proud of all of ‘em,” her husband Allan, a retired Wellington firefighter said. “We need to honor all the fallen, not just my son. They all deserve it.”
The Rev. Brian Burke of the First Congregational United Church of Christ offered a prayer and said safety forces provide a tremendous service, much like military, and so should be honored when they die in the line of duty.
“This is important stuff,” Barfield said. “We never want to forget because people gave their lives to defend this town. At Christmas time you want to rememeber the families and let them know we have never forgotten them.”
Fire chief Mike Wetherbee said holidays are supposed to be happy, but unfortunate circumstances come along.
“We have shared in the grief with them…it defintely was like losing part of the family,” he said, remembering Anderson’s death.
It was just last December that Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the Allan Anderson Jr. law into effect, making harsher penalties for going around “Road Closed” signs and getting stranded in high water.
“It’s a good time to let them know we think of them regardless of the time of year,” Wetherbee said.
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Photos by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
A moment of silence is observed after a memorial wreath is placed at the Wellington Safety Forces memorial, honoring those fallen in the line of duty.