WHY THIS IS A MUST-READ:
Be inspired by a man who served his community with all his heart, a tribute to a fireman whose life was cut short at 23. See also “Editor's Ink” on page A4.
KIMBLES - Steven Anthony Boo, a 23 year old resident of Tafton and a fireman with Company 81, Forest Volunteer Fire Department since he was 17, has been fondly remembered as his unexpected death in a car crash, August 5th, leaves a wave of mourning.
Steven Boo was driving on Route 507, with his 18 year old girlfriend, Shelby Milewski. They were headed to the Wayne County Fair when at about 2:30 p.m., the car left the roadway. This was near the intersection with Courtney Lane in Palmyra Township.
PA State Police, Blooming Grove said that the car struck an embankment and then collided with a downed tree.
In addition to PA State Police, Tafton and Promised Land fire departments, Tafton Ambulance and Medic 404-2 LV were sent to the scene.
Boo was pronounced deceased at the scene. His passenger had escaped injury.
Trooper Patrick J. Quinn said that the investigation was continuing. An autopsy was scheduled to see if any condition may have led to the crash.
Still sinking in
“We are very saddened by his loss,” said Lee Viola, Captain of Co. 81. “We had a lot of respect for him. He was a very dedicated firefighter.”
He said it hadn’t really sunk in yet. Steven’s death left the fire company devastated by the loss of their brother.
That day it happened, their fire chief, Wayne Rosengrant, called a special meeting of the department which met at 8 p.m., where he broke the news. They had a chance to share their grief together and begin to sort out the pieces in their collective shock.
His girlfriend, who started out as a junior firefighter with Greene-Dreher Fire Department, attended the meeting as well. She joined the Forest Volunteer Fire Department only a few months ago. Shelby, who lives in Greentown, was crowned last year as the GDS Fair Queen.
Asked if she’d like to comment, she offered, “My boyfriend was a sweet caring man. He was as people called him a gentle giant, he was an amazing firefighter and I will love him forever.”
Loved teaching youth
Viola stated that Boo had a passion for helping young people who were interested in joining the fire service. Many times, Viola would stop by the station and find Boo instructing junior members in the use of equipment. Boo was also an eager participant when it came to talking at the Wallenpaupack schools, about being an emergency responder.
He was very active at the community outreach events, both at the schools and at local communities.
Boo was a big guy, Viola said; at about 6’4” tall and weighing around 250 pounds, he was very useful when it came to heavy duty work. Viola said in their training, when they needed to get a wall down, they’d suggest Boo. He could also carry a line by himself that would normally take a few men.
The Forest Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page has several pictures of Boo posted, and has been a gathering place for many who chose to leave comments to express their sorrow and admiration for this young man. Several commenters identified themselves as members of other nearby fire companies, standing in solidarity with Co. 81.
Outpouring of support
“He was a great kid,” Chief Wayne Rosegrant said. “I watched him grow from a boy to a man in a very short time. He was an excellent firefighter and a good person all around.”
The Chief has been very engaged this week in the details of the loss and subsequent funeral arrangements with the family. He posted a comment on their page to express his thanks.
“I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to our local residents and to the emergency responder community,” Rosengant said. “It has been a very trying time for myself and everyone in my department. The outpouring of support from everyone is truly overwhelming and humbling. We are extremely grateful for everyone's support and it is truly an honor to serve this wonderful community with all of you.
“A very special thank you to our brothers and sisters of Tafton Fire Department and Promised Land Fire Department for being so professional in taking care of our brother during the accident…”
Commission President reflects
John Kerkowski, President of the Lackawaxen Fire Commission, stated that he has been able to get to know many of their volunteers personally. “I’ve also developed a much greater appreciation for what our first responders do for the Township and how it can impact them personally,” he said.
“Firefighting by its nature is hazardous work, with the ever present danger of injury or even death. Our volunteers recognize this and are constantly training to maintain and improve their skills as first responders. Not only does the safety of the Township depend on their ability, but so does their own safety and that of the other members of the department.”
“However, the training and experiences they share together also produce a bond that goes beyond mere friendship. Department members start to become like family and when something happens to one of them, they band together for support, whether it be financial, emotional or any other needs,” Kerkowski continued.
“In the case of Forest VFD, they haven't just lost a member, they've lost a brother and one who they will not soon forget. Steven Boo was a wonderful human being. As a volunteer firefighter, though, he was also part of a close knit family that I know will not only miss him on a professional level, but even more so on a personal one,” Kerkowski said. “On behalf of the Fire Commission, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathy to his family as well as all the members of Company 81.”
Timothy Knapp, Pike County Emergency Management Director and Assistant Chief at Co. 81, said that Boo’s passing was a big loss both as a friend and as a firefighter.
He said that Boo was one of the original members to participate in Forest’s live-in program, where he continued to stay. As a live-in member at the station, Boo was able to respond immediately to a call.
At the Junior Firefighting Academies, held in the spring and fall at the Pike County Training Center, Boo was a faithful participant, helping to teach and be an example to the young people. Chief Rosengrant said that Boo was the first to sign up to teach at the academies.
Boo’s father was an active fire department member in Chester, New York, where Steven Boo was from.
Boo graduated from Wallenpaupack Area High School in 2012. He moved with his family to North Carolina, but he soon came back, Knapp said. Boo started with the fire department as a junior member, and was Assistant Foreman at the time of his death.
He worked at Woodloch Springs for some time in security services, and more recently started a new job.
Colleen Edwards, Advisor for the Wallenpaupack Emergency Responder Club at the High School, said that Boo was at many of the events and drills dealing with emergency service and firefighting. “… A very nice young man and dedicated to his service,” she said.
Second in four years
It was only a few years ago that Forest Volunteer lost another of their own, a junior fireman by the name of Jacob Austin Daniels - who was known as Jake. In June 2013, Jake was killed in a car crash, and at that time, Forest Volunteer responded with a profound sense of loss, and banded together as one to show their respect. They had an official Honor Guard at that time. He was 17.
Now they have to do it all over again.
“It’s only been four or five years since we lost Jake. … No fire company should have to go through that… Losing two young firefighters is very devastating,” Viola said. No young life should be snuffed out, but we have to accept it…”
Viola said each of them have their memory of Steven Boo. While they mourn his death he said they will be celebrating his life.
Hard to replace
Boo, as he was called- Steven was the epitome of emergency services, when you look for someone to join,” Knapp said. Boo, he said, was extremely dedicated and always willing to train the younger guys. He had the traits that they look for when seeking new volunteer recruits.
In 2015, an aggressive recruitment campaign started in Pike County to try and find new volunteer firefighters, which Knapp has been actively promoting. Asking the question, “Could You Be One of the Ones?”, the campaign points out the many personal benefits of being an active firefighter, while being part of a team that worked together for the community’s welfare. Boo was described as an excellent example of that.
Knapp said it is very hard to find new members, and affirmed that when you find a good one, such as Steven Boo, it is a treasure. “It will be very hard to replace him, if we can replace him,” Knapp said.
Knapp affirmed that it was his hope that Boo’s legacy will inspire others.
The fire department planned an Honor Guard at the funeral. Several other fire departments expressed interest in participating.The members were practicing for the formal ceremony, Monday night, August 7th.
The memorial service was set for Thursday, August 10, 5- 9 p.m. at Forest’s fire station.
“Firematic Services” were set for 7:30 p.m.
On Friday morning, August 11, a procession was set to begin at the PA State Police barracks on Route 402.
The department was then proceeding to Chester, NY, where to form another Honor Guard at the burial site. The procession was taking Interstate 84 to Chester, NY. The Chester Fire Department was joining the procession at the PA/NY border.
A “Steven Boo Memorial Fund” was been set August 8th up at the gofundme.com site, to raise help his family with the funeral expenses. A $5,000 goal has been set.
Pictures of Steven Boo and many comments have been posted at the fire company’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FVFD81/.