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Thread: Oviedo FLORIDA Firefighter Shane Kelly Deserves Honor

  1. #1
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West

    Oviedo FLORIDA Firefighter Shane Kelly Deserves Honor

    Oviedo fireman deserves honor, his widow says

    By Robert Perez | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted August 1, 2002

    OVIEDO -- Rachel Kelly instantly recognized the envelope from the federal government as she thumbed through her mail.

    She assumed the letter from the Justice Department would confirm that her husband, Oviedo firefighter Shane Kelly, would be recognized for dying in the line of duty.

    Instead, the words printed in bold lettersjumped out at her from the middle of the page -- NOT COVERED.

    The federal agency ruled that Shane Kelly, 26, was acting as a good Samaritan and not a firefighter when he stopped to help the victims of a traffic accident on Florida's Turnpike on June 8. Kelly, who was off duty, and Winter Park doctor N. Donald Diebel Jr., who also stopped to help, were killed when a tractor-trailer lost control on the rain-slick road and crashed into them.

    The letter, received Monday, went on to say that Kelly is not eligible for a $259,038 death benefit from the Public Safety Officer's Program, which pays a one-time benefit to the families of police and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

    But the money isn't the main issue for Kelly's widow. Because the benefit was denied, Shane Kelly's name may never be included on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Maryland.

    "If he doesn't get this, what he did that day will be for nothing," his wife said Wednesday. "He lost his life doing what firefighters do. He deserves this benefit. I want his death to be recognized the way it should be."

    Each year the names of firefighters who die in the line of duty during the previous year are put on a plaque. In an emotional ceremony that includes the families of the fallen firefighters, the plaque is added to the memorial in Emmitsburg, Md.

    Rachel Kelly, 27, said she will appeal the Justice Department decision. In the meantime, she and her family, as well as Oviedo city officials and firefighters, began lobbying to overturn the ruling.

    "It was heartbreaking," Kelly said, recalling the moment she read the letter. "I instantly started to cry."

    Oviedo police Chief Dennis Peterson said police and firefighters are a special breed trained to do a job, and they cannot simply turn their backs on people in need.

    "It's in here with people like that," Peterson said, pointing to his heart. "We have to do what we're trained to do. God won't let us walk away."

    Bobby Beagles, Rachel Kelly's father, said his son-in-law gave his life doing what he was trained to do.

    "I expect his name should be put on that wall with the rest of those great firefighters," he said.

    At the time of his death, Shane Kelly had worked for the Oviedo Fire Department for 3

  2. #2
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Shane Kelly Bad Treatment

    Bad treatment

    Posted August 3, 2002

    Our position: It's outrageous that Shane Kelly isn't getting a federal benefit.

    To Central Floridians, Shane Kelly is a hero. He is the Oviedo firefighter killed this summer while aiding motorists seriously injured in a crash on Florida's Turnpike.

    Yet to federal officials, Mr. Kelly was just a hapless good Samaritan. That's why they decided that he doesn't qualify for a federal Department of Justice death benefit intended to aid the families of firefighters and police officers who die "in the line of duty."

    The rejection of the federal death benefit also raises doubt regarding whether Mr. Kelly's name will go on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Maryland. Considering the circumstances, Mr. Kelly deserves the honor.

    Denying Mr. Kelly's widow, Rachel, the $259,038 one-time benefit is an insult to the bravery and sacrifice of police officers and firefighters who don't hesitate to respond in emergencies, even when they are off duty. The public expects as much from trained professionals who have taken an oath to serve the public. That spirit of sacrifice was shown clearly in that tragedy that took Mr. Kelly's life. Dr. N. Donald Diebel Jr., a Winter Park physician, also was killed while working with Mr. Kelly. An off-duty firefighter from Georgia was among several others injured during that tragic incident.

    Mr. Kelly, an emergency medical technician, was on a trip with his wife when he stopped to help the injured motorists in Sumter County when the tragedy occurred. Because Mr. Kelly was on his own time, federal officials don't consider the death to be "in the line of duty." That unrealistically narrow interpretation of Mr. Kelly's status is silly. It's obvious that he was performing in the capacity of a firefighter when he was killed.

    As far as Mr. Kelly's Oviedo bosses are concerned, he was "on the clock" when he stopped to help the motorists. That is why the state granted death benefits. Florida law authorizes paying workers' compensation to police and firefighters who render aid, even when they are off duty.

    Police and firefighters are taught during training that they are never truly off duty. To protect the welfare of their families, the federal benefit needs to work just like Florida's compensation law.

    The decision rejecting the benefit for Mrs. Kelly warrants reversal by federal officials. Yet that's not enough. The federal law needs changing. A new law can make clear that off-duty police officers and firefighters who die while responding to an emergency qualify for this benefit. U.S. Reps. John Mica and Ric Keller, who are helping Mrs. Kelly, are two who can provide the leadership to make the appropriate changes.

  3. #3
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West


    Heart of the matter

    I was saddened to hear that Oviedo firefighter Shane Kelly, who was killed voluntarily aiding accident victims on the Florida Turnpike, was denied "line of duty" death status by the federal government.

    While the firefighter's uniform may be removed at the end of a shift, the firefighter's heart is never removed. Shane's Central Florida brothers don't need a government decree to see his final acts for what they were: a firefighter who died doing his duty.

    Rick McGarity

    Winter Park

    Future prospects

    I am 9 years old. My mom read the article about the fireman, and I have to tell you what I think. I think that no matter what, firemen are always on duty and everybody should be considered to be on the firefighters memorial in Maryland. And no matter what, every second of the day for a fireman he is on duty.

    I think that his name should be on the wall and his wife should get her money.

    I would hate to be the person who dies because firemen no longer stop to help because their families won't get their money.

    Ian Hoffman


    On-duty question

    After reading the article about Shane Kelly in Thursday's paper, I was appalled, but not surprised. This situation is a typical bureaucratic bungle.

    When firemen and police officers join the force, they take an oath to serve and protect. This oath mentions nothing about being on duty. They serve and protect 24/7 if that is what is needed.

    In regard to our politicians and bureaucrats, if this is how they view one's service, then I feel that the politicians and bureaucrats should also follow the same plan. The only time that they would be allowed to collect death benefits is if they are killed during a legislative session and they are in attendance; in other words, only while they are on duty.

    Rick Monroe

    Winter Springs

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