A solemn reminder

By Molly Lynch
The Texas City Sun

Published October 05, 2000 1:14 AM CDT

A collection of flowers flutters in the fall breeze at
the intersection of Century Boulevard and the
Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, a symbol of the
tragedy that occurred here a year ago.


Atop the bouquet, a bright red fire hat marks the
location where Texas City Fire Capt. William
Bethune, 58, lost his life when the fire truck he was
riding in crashed into another car.

Texas City Fire Chief Gerald Grimm said
Wednesday the tragic accident was a reminder to
many firefighters responding to emergencies of just
how important it is for drivers to take precautions at
intersections and for the firefighters to wear their
safety belts. Bethune was not at the time of the

Grimm said the accident probably could have been
prevented had the driver of the car yielded to the
emergency vehicle - which was operating its
emergency equipment - and had the driver of the
fire truck slowed down at the intersection to prevent
a collision.

"You can never assume anything, because if you
assume, this is the end result," Grimm said.

Grimm believes Bethune's death, though tragic,
had a positive side.

"Of the hundreds and hundreds of departments
that sent appreciation to us, many of them have
taken this as a reminder of what can happen when
we don't follow the rules," he said.

Bethune is among nearly a dozen other firefighters
across the nation whose lives were lost in the line
of duty last year. Those fallen firefighters will be
remembered and honored Sunday at the National
Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service at the National
Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg,
Maryland. The ceremony is held yearly in
conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week Oct.
8 through 14.

Grimm, Bethune's wife Sandi and at least one of
Bethune's daughters will attend the televised
memorial at 10:30 a.m. Sandi will be presented a
sketch of Bethune's name that was engraved into
the wall at the Maryland National Fire Academy and
a United States flag and proclamation.

"We (firefighters) are here to serve the public and
in this case, the public is saying thank you for
accepting your sacrifice with your dedication to the
public," Grimm said about the memorial. He added
that the ceremony also brings closure to families
who suffered the loss of loved ones in the line of

To see the NIOSH Report on the accident