Junior Firefighter Killed In Flooding
I'm suprised this story hasn't already made the FH.com front page and, thus, the forums. Certainly, this is a sad -- and preventable -- death.
Boy’s body found after flooding
Junior fireman, 16, was on rescue mission with stepfather
BY KENNETH HEARD AND ANDY DAVIS ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Christopher Bodkins, 16, loved being a volunteer junior fireman and was on a rescue mission Saturday morning when the raging waters of Martin Creek swept him away to his death.
Family members found Bodkins’ body along the creek bank at 11 p.m. Saturday when the waters receded, about 35 yards from where a vehicle driven by his stepfather, Bill Cossey, the assistant fire chief of the Williford Volunteer Fire Department, was washed off a lowwater bridge.
Rescue workers called off their search at dark Sunday for a man presumed missing from River Bend Park, a campsite for camper trailers and recreational vehicles about two miles north of Hardy along the Spring River. A friend told authorities that Jackie Richardson, a former Trumann fireman who lived in one of the park’s trailers, was last seen clutching a tree branch when 12 feet of water cascaded from the Spring River into the park.
“We’ve narrowed down the search [for Richardson],” Hardy Fire Chief Lonnie Phelps said. “We hope we find him soon.”
The search is to resume today.
Bodkins, a ninth-grade student from Williford, was responding Saturday night to a 911 call on Martin Creek Road about eight miles east of Hardy with his stepfather and Cliff King, a 21-year-old friend who was spending the night at Cossey’s Williford home. A woman and three children were trapped by rising waters in a cabin along Martin Creek Road north of U.S. 63.
Heavy rainfall accompanying a series of storms that swept through Sharp County and northern Arkansas on Friday evening and Saturday morning had forced creeks and rivers out of their banks.
Cossey, who was driving a Toyota Corolla, said Sunday that he topped a hill on Martin Creek Road about one-half mile north of U.S. 63 and then descended into a valley where there was a lowwater crossing. Authorities incorrectly said Saturday that Bodkins was driving the car.
“The water hit us and we started sliding,” Cossey said.
King, who sat in the back seat of Cossey’s vehicle, escaped through the back door.
“I told Christopher to get out,” Cossey said. “The last thing I saw before my head went underwater was Christopher crawling out of the window.”
Bill Cossey escaped through the driver’s side window, but was swept downstream.
“I can’t swim a lick,” he said. “I busted around trying to hold onto something.”
He grabbed tree limbs, but the roiling waters snapped them, sending him farther downstream.
King grabbed a flashlight and ran along the creek bank, shining the light on Cossey. He spent nearly two hours in the water, yelling questions about his stepson.
“I was trying to hold on, but I kept asking about Christopher,” he said. “The light would flash up and down at times and I thought they were saying he was OK. I’d ask again and the light didn’t move.”
Cossey was rescued by boat, taken to an ambulance where he warmed up and then began searching for Bodkins.
Saturday evening, searchers found Cossey’s car about 200 yards from the crossing.
Officials called off the search at 7 p.m., Saturday because of darkness. But residents of the small eastern Sharp County town of 63 weren’t deterred by nightfall.
“The locals kept on searching,” said Dudley Louvier, acting mayor of Williford. “They got their flashlights and kept on searching.”
An uncle found Bodkins’ body about 35 yards downstream from Cossey’s car at 11 p.m. Saturday, Louvier said.
Rescuers from 10 counties, including Shelby County, Tenn., assisted in the search for both Bodkins and Richardson.
“We appreciate everybody showing up,” Cossey said. “We didn’t get to thank them.”
Bodkins was remembered as being enthusiastic about his role as a junior volunteer firefighter. He didn’t battle fires, but gladly rolled up fire hoses and helped with other chores whenever asked, Cossey said.
“He was always the first in the car,” Cossey said. “The pager would go off, calling us out, and he’d be, ‘C’mon, let’s go.’”
Visitation will be held for Bodkins from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Williford High School gymnasium. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Tri-County Cherokee Chapel in Hardy, with burial to follow at the Cossey Family Cemetery in Williford.
Volunteer FD,s can be covered by child labor laws/OSHA
Follow the law! Adolescent workers are protected by two laws enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL):
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) Act. Each state also has child labor laws. Employers must comply with both federal and state laws. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection to youth workers will apply.
The FLSA and state laws provide child labor provisions that were designed to protect childern!
Employers must make any employees exposed to hazardous materials aware of the hazards and train them to protect themselves from these hazards [1910.1200].
A vounteer fire department junior program may under the law have a empolyee employer relationship!Keep juniors in the station.No high risk operations.