By Meg Cullar
Photos by Julie Copenhaver
They came from Dallas, San Antonio, Jarrell, Ponderosa, Spring, Pooleville, Troy. Firefighters and EMTs drove more than three hundred fire and rescue vehicles slowly down University Parks Drive to Baylor’s Ferrell Center on April 25 as part of a procession honoring the first responders who died in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
When the lone fire truck belonging to the city of West passed by, the crowd followed the lead of firefighters standing by and applauded. Three of the city’s fire trucks and one ambulance were destroyed in the explosion on April 17.
The procession preceded a memorial service in the Ferrell Center, where President Obama, Texas governor Rick Perry, and U. S. Senator John Cornyn were among those who came to grieve with the families of West. Fourteen people died in the blast, and twelve were honored as first responders. The Ferrell Center was filled to capacity with nearly ten thousand people.
Baylor students, staff, faculty, and others lined the streets for hours to pay respect to the people of West, a town of 2,800 just fifteen miles north of campus. Many standing along University Parks said they did not plan to go into the memorial service, because they felt the seats there should be reserved for the people of West and their families and friends.
The procession began with hundreds of motorcycles of the Patriot Guard, and it ended with more than 150 bagpipe and drum players from all over North America. Members of the West Volunteer Fire Department marched near the end, carrying the helmets of the fallen firefighters.
The City of West still needs your help. Find out how you can help by visiting these links: