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'We call them heroes': Fallen Maryland first responders honored with Fallen Heroes ceremony

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Posted at 6:00 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 18:00:24-04

TIMONIUM, Md. — A family of first responders stood tall in the pouring rain in honor of 15 deserving heroes from across our state — men and women who lost their lives serving the public.

“We call them heroes, but to them, they were simply doing their jobs, a job where they placed themselves in harm’s way everyday and paid the ultimately sacrifice to protect all of us,” Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford said.

Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford took the time to share sincere gratitude for their families still grieving from unimaginable losses.

“Thank you for giving us a part of your life’s ones everyday. It was with your support and love that each of them were able to serve our state with pride,” Lt. Gov. Rutherford told the families.

MORE: Crisis Canines to attend Fallen Heroes ceremony to comfort victims' families

Half of the first responders honored this year died of complications with COVID-19.

“Sadly, we know this virus has been a top cause of death for far too many first responders across the country,” said Baltimore County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr.

MORE: Deaths of three Baltimore City firefighters in S. Stricker Street fire ruled homicides

Notable honorees lost their lives in the act of protecting the communities they cherished, including Baltimore City Police Officer Keona Holley who was loved deeply by her colleagues, family and community known by many as the “mom of the west side.”

Honored as well were Baltimore City Fire Department’s Lt. Kelsey Sadler, Lt. Paul Butrim and firefighter Kenny lacayo, who died responding to a vacant house fire on South Stricker Street.

“This past year we learned just how deep these family ties go. They go across service departments, they span jurisdictional boundaries and they cross political divides,” Olszewski said.

MORE: Police Officer Keona Holley passes away after being removed from life-support
As families from all over the state mustered up the strength to come together in their loved ones honor, it served as a reminder that they’re not facing the pain and grief by themselves.

“This has been a year where we’ve seen tragedy upon tragedy but it has been so encouraging to see the ways of which our first responder families continue to be there for each other,” Olszewski said.