Late Thursday evening The Blaze reported on a tragic accident at a Texas Rangers game where a man died after falling from the stands while trying to catch a baseball for his six year old son. The heartbreak was only compounded by the fact that the man, Shannon Stone, was not only a devoted father, but also a firefighter who spent his life saving others.
Stone tried to catch a ball thrown by outfielder Josh Hamilton but while reaching for it, tumbled over the railing and fell 20 feet. Sadly, Stone's son Cooper witnessed the entire tragedy unfold. Stone was then taken by ambulance to a Fort Worth hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to reports, the 39 year old fire lieutenant's last words were "Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself."
ESPN reports that Stone was an 18 year veteran of Brownwood Fire Department and was a lieutenant in charge of Station 2. He also ran one of the engine companies, which included three other firefighters.
Now, the 30 members of Texas' Brownwood Fire Department are reportedly mourning the death of their friend and co-worker. Fire chief Del Albright told ESPN:
"You worry about him getting hurt fighting a fire, and I always worry about that with my guys, but this is something you don't expect," Brownwood fire chief Del Albright said. Albright said he found out about the tragedy when he received a call Thursday night from someone in the Arlington Fire Department wanting to confirm Stone worked in Brownwood.
Albright said he presented Stone and another firefighter with a distinguished service medal in 2008 for rescuing an elderly woman from a "heavily involved" structure fire.
Albright went on to explain how "dedicated" Stone was to his family and to being a firefighter.
“Whenever he was off duty, he was with his son. We had officer meetings and I would ask him to come in on his day off to attend those and nine out of 10 times he had his son with him. He was dependable. I left him in charge of many fires I went to because I knew he could handle it.”
One long-time colleague, Captain Robert Myers, told ESPN the "most important thing" to remember about Stone was that he "had a heart of gold."
“He had a rough exterior, but he’d do anything for anybody and he loved the fire service and the guys he worked with and his family. He had that little boy with him 24-7 when he was around.”
Regarding Stone's family, Chief Albright vowed to help the family in any way he and the department can.
"Whatever the family wants, we'll make it happen," Albright said. "We have traditions and ways of remembering our fallen brothers and sisters with honor guards and flag ceremonies. We'll talk with the family and see what we need to do."
ESPN provides a video discussing the incident:
Indeed this is one of life's deeply sad ironies. A man can walk into a burning building a thousands times and each time emerge unscathed, but an innocent baseball game with his son is what alters his fate irrevocably.