Tyler Doohan was laid to rest this week with firefighters standing at attention after the 8-year-old was killed saving his family from a fire.
Doohan was staying with relatives in Upstate New York for the Martin Luther King Jr. school holiday when he noticed a fire in the singlewide trailer. As firefighters responded to the 4:45 am blaze, Tyler was able to alert six people, including his 4-year-old and 6-year-old cousins.
Tyler then went back into the blazing trailer to help his grandfather, who was disabled and unable to walk on his own. Firefighters said it appeared that Tyler Doohan was trying to lift his grandfather when the two were overcome by the smoke and flames.
“By that time, the fire had traveled to the back of the trailer,” said Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer, who declared Tyler an honorary firefighter. “Unfortunately, they both succumbed to heat and smoke.”
Tyler Doohan was laid to rest at St. John of Rochester Catholic Church this week along with two other people who died in the fire. After the story of Tyler’s heroic sacrifice made news last week, members of the Wisconsin Silver Lake College basketball team were so moved that they traveled to New York to serve as pallbearers.
Firefighters from a number of neighboring jurisdictions also donned their Class A dress uniforms and stood at attention while bagpipers played.
“You’re a hero, baby,” said Tyler’s mother, Crystal Vrooman. “You did it huge. I know you’re watching this go on, and you should be so proud of yourself.”
Others who knew Tyler Doohan said they were not surprised to learn of his sacrifice.
“To go running back in there it’s quite something,” said East Rochester Interim Superintendent Richard Stutzman. “It’s probably not what you teach in fire school, however he did it and that’s how we’re going to remember him; he wanted to help his grandfather.”
During the funeral, the family of Tyler Doohan also received a fire helmet inscribed with the boy’s name.