Tracey and Rick Bales, of Flint, shed tears over the loss of their son Austin Cheek
Photo credit: Mark Roberts/ The Tyler Paper
Kevin Williams, Austin Cheek
Photo credit: Noonday Fire Dept. /The Tyler Paper
Firefighters battle a blaze at a Flint home along Old Jacksonville Highway.
Photo credit: Herb Nygren Jr./The Tyler Paper
Community members will gather this morning to honor two heroes of the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department who died battling a house fire early Friday morning.
A memorial service, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at Green Acres Baptist Church, initiates two days of mourning and remembrance for 42-year-old Noonday Capt. Kevin Williams and 19-year-old firefighter Austin Cheek.
Williams and Cheek died around 2 a.m. as they tried to extinguish a fire inside the living room of a five-bedroom home on Old Jacksonville Highway. Two other Noonday firefighters, Chief Gary Arrant and Travis Burnett, received injuries when they went into the home to rescue Williams and Cheek. Arrant and Burnett were treated and released from East Texas Medical Center after suffering from heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. The Smith County Fire Marshal's Office has asked the public to lower their flags to half staff on Monday as a tribute to Williams and Cheek.
"We ask you to join our office and all firefighters as we honor and pay our respect to these two heroes that were killed in the line of duty," said Mary Thompson, spokesperson for the Fire Marshal's office, in a press release. "Please remember to keep their families and fellow firefighters in your prayers."
Funeral services for Kevin Williams will take place at 2 p.m. Monday at Bethel Bible Church, located at 17121 U.S. Highway 69 S. The Rev. Craig Kirkpatrick will officiate.
Williams graduated from Berkner High School in Richardson in 1983. He served in the United States Air Force Reserves during Desert Storm. He was a Captain for the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department and was employed by Tyler Fire Extinguishers. He was also a charter member of Bethel Bible Church.
Burial will follow at the Roselawn Cemetery in Flint under the direction of Stewart Family Funeral Home. Memorials in honor of Williams may be made to Southside Bank, Account Number 5755492.
Visitation services for Austin Cheek will take place from 6-8 p.m. Monday at Burks-Walker-Tippit Funeral Home, located at 215 E. Front St.
Funeral services for Cheek take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Green Acres Baptist Church, 1607 Troup Highway, and burial will follow at Cathedral in the Pines Cemetery.
Cheek worked at Office Depot and was a 2006 graduate of Whitehouse High School. He was also a member of Green Acres Baptist Church, South Campus. He enjoyed scuba diving and planned to train as a rescue diver and paramedic.
A memorial fund has been set up for the fallen firefighters. Donations can be sent to the following address: Tragedy Fund for Noonday Firefighters; Noonday Volunteer Fire Department; 16619 State Highway 155 S.
The visitation for Captain Williams took place Sunday night at Stewart Funeral Home in Tyler. Hundreds of people came to show their respects. Williams funeral will be Monday at 2:00 p.m. at Bethel Bible Church in Tyler.
The visitation for Austin Cheek is Monday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Burks-Walker-Tippit Funeral Home. Cheek's funeral will be at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Green Acres Baptist Church.