Ill. Flags at Half Mast Wednesday for West Firefighter

Kevin Sanders, 33, was formerly with Plainfield's emergency community.


Flags in Illinois will be flying at half mast Wednesday, May 1 in honor of a native son killed in the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas on April 17.

Kevin Sanders, 33, a firefighter with Bruceville-Eddy Fire Department, was one of 10 responders killed in the blast in West, Texas.

Sanders, who was born and raised in Illinois, was in an EMT class at West EMS when he and his fellow students responded to help evacuate residents from a nursing home.

He and his wife, Sarah, moved to Texas few years ago when she landed a job as a PA at a veterans hospital.

A lifelong Superman fanatic, Sanders' three-month-old son was named Reeve.

Sanders taught veterinary technician training at McLennan Community College in Waco. Many of his students wore Superman t-shirts and other memorabilia to the memorial service last week for the heroes who lost their lives in the explosion.

When the tones sounded -- regardless of the hour -- Sanders would race out the door, jump into his bright red Charger and head off to help -- just as his hero Superman would, his brother recalled last week.

The only thing slowing hime down in the past few months was he had to hand his son to his wife, Sarah, first.

WEST EMS Chief Tom Marek said during an interview with Firehouse.com last week that Sanders had found his niche' in fire and EMS. 

"His mom told me that as a boy he was always jumping to help others. Kevin reacted the same night of the explosion, and died a hero."

When Sanders' body landed at O'Hare a few days ago, local fire and rescue personnel provided an escort to Plainfield. 

"We don't like to do it but we have to do it," Frankfort Fire Department Chief Larry Rauch told local reporters.

The procession from O'Hare to the Plainfield funeral home included first responders from all over the Chicago area who lined the streets o escort one of their own home.

"It's a tribute to those in the fire service who have lost their life. It's closure for all of us," Rauch said.