Brian would hate me for writing this, the Perryville Brian, that is, but I'm gonna write it and that's that.
The other Brian, New York Brian, might have seen this story, as he does the news from a network in New York. And I guarantee you that if he has driven up I-95 North through Cecil County, Maryland once in his life, he's done it dozens of times.
Brian Williams is a man I worked with when I was a supervisor at Baltimore County 911. At the time, he was a career firefighter for Baltimore County, assigned as a Fire Liaison in the communications center. He retired from that county job just last year after 28 years, but continued to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Captain at the Community Fire Company of Perryville, MD, a nice little town of 4,300 people in Northeast Maryland.
Brian Williams, the New York Brian, served his community as a volunteer firefighter in Middletown, New Jersey as a younger man and now hosts a late night news program on MSNBC as well as breaking coverage on the NBC networks.
This past Sunday morning, Perryville Brian was out there on I-95, doing his part time job as a tow truck driver, assisting the driver of a broken-down car, when a man lost control of his car and hit him as he stood alongside the road. Brian Williams is dead, at 51.
Perryville Brian is being remembered as the kind of guy you would want to have in your neighborhood - helpful, kind, resourceful enough to get things done. His wife, Kerri, worked with us a police dispatcher and is a volunteer firefighter herself at Perryville. Their daughter was graduated from Towson University and now lives down south. All in all, a fine family, now torn all to hell by the apparent careless driving of a man said to have a spotty driving record.
The men and women who serve America as volunteer firefighters and EMS workers are carrying on a tradition begun by Benjamin Franklin in 1736. Many, like Perryville BW, serve in dual capacities, working for the government and volunteering in off hours.
Still others, like New York BW, serve during high school and college years and move on to other pursuits. But I can tell you from my own life, if you have the Fire Department in your life once, you have it forever.
The volunteers BW left behind on that busy superslab highway want you to know that you can help his memory by moving over when you see emergency or service vehicles in the road ahead.
We who mourn Mr Williams know that other hands will show up when the bell rings. Someone will learn to hold a hose line or apply life-saving advanced life support to accident victims, especially on that stretch of I-95 that Perryville serves. Others will come along and serve. It's the way things are done, but in losing Brian, we lost a special guy, and we seem to lose ten of them a day some of these days.