Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

                   Heroes in real life

L.A. and Southern California
mourn those who died in crash

Los Angeles grieves again today. The crash of the Los Angeles Fire Department air ambulance claimed four lives Monday: 11-year -old Norma Vides, who was being rushed to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles after an auto accident; firefighter-paramedics Michael Butler and Eric Reiner; and helicopter crewman Michael McComb.
On March 8, Joseph C. Dupee died fighting a blaze--the Los Angeles Fire Department's first death in the line of duty in 14 years.
These courageous firefighters put their lives on the line every day for the betterment of our community, and they died as heroes.
We honor them.
On a day when the Hollywood dream factory was honoring the film industry's achievements with Academy Awards, three firefighters were killed and two others badly injured as they went about their chosen work, risking their lives as a matter of daily routine.
They are not alone.
On March 15, Harbor Patrol Officer Paul Korber drowned after courageously saving the lives of three swimmers struggling against a riptide near Ventura Harbor.
Every day, men and women police officers, firefighters and others face terrible challenges in service to the community.
The greatest respect the public can pay to all these heroes is to ensure that they did not die in vain.
We must investigate what went wrong and make sure the problems are corrected.
Friday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to restore jobs to the Fire Department that had been cut to save money--jobs that might have made a difference in the fire that killed Dupee.
There is obvious cause for concern in Monday's tragedy. The aircraft was a 22-year-old workhorse, and officials said its tail rotor fell off before the crash.

We must face what went wrong and fix it. Paramedic services are basic to our lives together in this city, and money must be found to provide for our community's health and safety even if other things must go.
Too often, City Hall has spent too much on what is not basic and necessary to our lives, too often at the expense of what is critical.
We don't know whether that applies in this latest tragedy, but the truth will save us as a community.

Daily News
Tuesday, March 24, 1998

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