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Fallen Heroes Day honors members of Maryland's public safety community who died in the line of duty

Pandemic brings changes to a 36-year tradition
Posted at 9:20 AM, May 07, 2021

TIMMONIUM, Md. — Friday is the 36th annual Fallen Heroes Day.

It's a day which honors police officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel who died in the line of duty.

The annual event is the only statewide ceremony in the nation that brings together all segments of the public safety community.

The Fallen Heroes Day ceremony is usually open to the public. Because of the pandemic, only family members of those killed in the line of duty will be allowed to attend in person this year.

This year's ceremony will be livestreamed on the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Facebook pageat 1pm.

Fallen Heroes Day is held each year on the first Friday in May. Including this year’s observance, 191 Maryland first responders have been honored to date.

Recently, the Delmar Police department lost Corporal Keith Heacook on April 28, 2021. He died three days after being attacked while responding to a call on April 25, 2021.

A moment of silence will be observed at this year’s ceremony in Corporal Heacook's honor. He will be honored at the 2022 Fallen Heroes Day ceremony.

The 2021 Fallen Heroes Day ceremony will honor:

Police Officer III Kyle David Olinger of the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland, who died on April 18, 2019. Officer Olinger succumbed to complications of a gunshot wound sustained on August 13, 2003, while making a traffic stop in Silver Spring, MD. As a result of that shooting, Officer Olinger remained paralyzed below the chest until his passing this past April. Kyle Olinger served with distinction, serving two years with the Montgomery County Police Department and six years with the Reading Police Department.

Firefighter Michael “Mike” Powers of the Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department in Frederick County, Maryland, who died on June 25, 2019. While responding to the scene of a fatal vehicle accident involving a tanker truck and car, Firefighter Powers suffered a medical emergency as he was clearing away wreckage from the Route 26 accident. The veteran volunteer firefighter’s distinguished fire service career spanned more than 50 years.

Assistant Engineer Otis Isaacs, Jr. of the North East Fire Company who died on December 29, 2019. The volunteer firefighter, who was past chief engineer, president, and chief of the fire company, suffered a cardiac arrest following a shift working on a fire department vehicle and working standby for two responses. Firefighter Isaacs joined the North East Fire Co. in 1964 and was one of several members of his family to be part of the department. He was inducted into the Harford-Cecil Hall of Fame in 2003.

Paramedic Jeffrey Lee "Jeff" Schaffer of the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company in Carroll County, who died on August 10, 2020. Jeff Schaffer, who was working on the front lines as the pandemic surged through Maryland, succumbed to Covid-19. An expert in the emergency medical field, he exemplified the term first responder and was named Carroll County’s EMS Provider of the Year in 1999 by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. Throughout his 48-year career, Paramedic Schaffer worked at several local fire departments including: Lineboro, Pleasant Valley (where he was a life-time member), Westminster, Pikesville, and Littlestown, and was highly respected by each fire company.

Corporal Christine Peters of the Greenbelt Police Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland, who died on January 14, 2021. The corporal succumbed to injuries sustained 12 days earlier when she was struck by a vehicle while assisting officers from the United States Park Police at the scene of a crash. Corporal Peters was an exceptional officer who served with the Greenbelt Police Department for 22 years and had previously served with the University of Maryland Police Department for five years.

Two other public safety officers who died in the line of duty before Fallen Heroes day became a day of remembrance, also will be honored this year.

Firefighter Alexander C. Johnson of Rescue Hose Company No. 1, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, who died on July 13, 1958. While fighting a warehouse fire on Shaw Street in Annapolis, Firefighter Johnson collapsed and later died at the hospital as a result of heart failure.

Police Officer Milton I. Spell of the Baltimore City Police Department, who died on August 15, 1974. Officer Spell, who was on foot patrol, was shot and killed after stopping a suspected drunk driver.

The ceremony will be livestreamed at 1pm on Facebook or can be viewed later on the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens website.