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Exclusive: Fallen firefighter’s widow seeks to prevent another line-of-duty death


ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF HER
HUSBAND’S DEATH, THERE IS A NEW
NORMALCY IN THE FLYNN HOME IN
HAVRE DE GRACE, WHERE CELESTE
FLYNN’S 3 YOUNGEST CHILDREN SEEM
AS COMFORTABLE IN A FIREFIGHTER HELMET AS THEIR DAD.>>IT’S IMPRESSIVE THE
RESILIENCY THAT THEY HAVE. IT’S JUST IMPRESSIVE. THEY HAVE GIVEN ME A LOT OF
STRENGTH AND HOPE THAT THEY ARE
GOING TO BE OK. DEBORAH: BEING OK JUST GOT MORE
COMPLICATED FOR CELESTE.>>THIS PICTURE IS THE ONE THAT
WAS IN HIS HELMET. DEBORAH: IN INTERNAL SAFETY
REVIEW SAW SEVERAL SYSTEMIC
FAILINGS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE
LINE OF DUTY DEATH TO HER
BELOVED HUSBAND, A 13 YEAR
VETERAN OF THE HOWARD COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FIRE AND RESCUE
SERVICES. A SAFETY FIRST PERFECTIONIST WHO
WOULD’VE BEEN DISAPPOINTED HOW
THINGS UNFOLDED.>>HAD ONE THING BEEN DONE
DIFFERENTLY, ARE ONE ELEMENT NOT
HAVE BEEN PRESENT, I THINK THE
OUTCOME WOULD HAVE BEEN
DIFFERENT. DEBORAH: LAST JULY 23, ALL
FAMILY MEMBERS OF THIS HOME IN
CLARKSVILLE HAD GOTTEN OUT
SAFELY. BUT ACCORDING TO INVESTIGATORS,
COMMUNICATION BECAME INEFFECTIVE
THAT DAY, AND AT TIMES
CONFUSING. FOR EXAMPLE, THE SAFETY REPORT
FOUND THAT CREWS SHOULD HAVE
KNOWN THE FIRE WAS IN THE
BASEMENT, BUT NATE WAS
DISPATCHED TO THE FIRST FLOOR
ABOVE IT ANYWAY. A CRITICAL TACTICAL ORDER —
ERROR THAT CONTRIBUTED TO HIS
DEATH.>>HAD A COUPLE OF THINGS BEEN
DONE DIFFERENTLY HE SHOULD’VE
BEEN COMING HOME THE NEXT
MORNING.>>KISSES FOR DADDY. DEBORAH: NATE FELTER THE FIRST
FLOOR. INITIAL MAYDAY CALLS FROM
ANOTHER FIREFIGHTER FOUND IT
PARTIALLY UNINTELLIGIBLE. CREWS WERE UNABLE TO IDENTIFY
HIS DISTRESS AND LOCATION UNTIL
AT LEAST FOUR MINUTES AFTER HE
FELL.>>KNOWING THAT THIS PERSON YOU
LOVE AND THE FATHER OF YOUR
CHILDREN, YOUR HUSBAND, KNOWING
HE IS THERE JUST HELPLESSLY
WAITING FOR THEM TO FIGURE OUT
WHAT GOING ON BASICALLY. THAT FOUR MINUTES WILL BE HARD
FOR A WHILE. DEBORAH: NATE MADE HIS OWN MADE
A CALL, BUT ON A RADIO CHANNEL
THAT WAS OVERRIDDEN. INVESTIGATORS CONTRIBUTED THAT
COMMUNICATION PROBLEM DID NOT
IMPACT HIS SURVIVABILITY. THE CALL WAS RECORDED AND
PROVIDED TO CELESTE. CELESTE: I COULD HEAR THE STRESS
IN HIS VOICE. I KNEW WHEN I HEARD THAT HE KNEW
HE WAS IN TROUBLE. HE KNEW THAT THIS WAS BAD. DEBORAH: FIRE CREWS EXTRICATED
ME FROM THE HOME — NATE FROM
THE HOME 22 MINUTES AND 11
SECONDS AFTER THE INITIAL MAYDAY
WAS DECLARED.>>NATHAN FLYNN WAS A HERO WHO
WAS CALLED HOME MUCH TOO SOON. DEBORAH: CELESTE STRUGGLES WITH
THE WORD HERO, ONLY BECAUSE SHE
SAID THERE WAS NO ONE IN THE
CLARKSVILLE HOME FOR NATE TO
SAVE. CELESTE: HE DID DIE IN A HOUSE
FIRE. DID HE HAVE TO BE INSIDE? DEBORAH: CELESTE IS NOT SEEKING
AN APOLOGY FROM THE HOWARD
COUNTY DEPARTMENT FIRE AND
RESCUE SERVICES. RATHER, CONTINUE TRANSPARENCY
ABOUT WHAT SHE CALLS A TRAGIC
ACCIDENT. CELESTE: MY INTEREST IS
UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S HAPPENING. WHEN YOU LEARN ALL THE DETAILS
AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT THEY WILL
BE DOING TO CORRECT THOSE THINGS
GOING FORWARD SO THAT THIS IS AN
ISOLATED INCIDENT AND DOES NOT
HAPPEN TO ANOTHER FAMILY. DEBORAH: REALLY REMARKABLE
WOMAN. STAN: JUST A TRAGIC SET OF
CIRCUMSTANCES. DEBORAH: SHE IS VERY GRATEFUL TO
THE NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS FOR
THEIR SUPPORT. THE SUSQUEHANNA COMPANY WERE
NATE VOLUNTEERED. TOMORROW, SHE WILL DELIVER
REMARKS AT EVENTS MARKING ONE
YEAR

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