A Green Country family is grieving after losing their four year old son in a drowning accident.
First responders say the child died on his birthday. Now the Toppers Fire Department is coming together to support the child's family. In the process firefighters are finding healing of their own.
Family says 4-year-old Steven Powers III loved dinosaurs and fishing and lit up every room he walked into. They say his favorite color was light blue. He was bright and loving and is unbelievably missed.
"It's a call that any kind of first responder is absolutely terrified of but at the end of the day we still have a job to do," says Toppers Fire Deputy Chief Chad Eiden.
Tuesday the 13th around 7 in the morning Eiden says crews found Steven, still alive.
“He had what we called ROSC, return of spontaneous circulation when he was put on the helicopter. Everybody at that point was optimistic," said Eiden.
Firefighters say Steven died two days later on his fourth birthday. Despite all their training, none of it prepared them for a tragedy like this.
"We had a critical incident stress debriefing the next evening,” said Eiden. "When you see the fire chief openly sharing his emotion and things that he is struggling with, it sends a message to everybody else that it's okay to cry."
The Toppers Fire Department and the community started doing what they do best, reaching out their arms to try and cover Steven's family in any way they could. For some people, that meant hosting a candlelight vigil.
"We've come a long way recognizing signs and symptoms of PTSD in first responders, and it's not something to play with. It's a career ender," said Eiden. "I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that people are emotionally ready to tackle whatever comes down the turnpike. Sometimes it's a tragedy that you have to struggle and find your way through it but we do it together. We are a family here. Everybody has each other’s backs."
For others, it has meant dropping off donations for Steven's family to the Toppers Fire Station. In an effort to comfort a family who is going through an unfathomable loss, first responders are finding healing of their own.
"To give us focus to give us closure and to let the family know that going through this is a horrendous thing to experience but they are not alone," said Eiden.
There is a car wash fundraiser at 9 a.m. August 26 at the Wagoner Fire Department. All proceeds will go to Steven's family. You can also drop off donations at the Toppers Fire Department.
Eiden is urging parents to be cautious.
“Drowning is very silent and it is very quick. Somebody is there one second and the next second they are gone. There is usually not any noise being made. All of us as a community, parents, family, friends, everybody needs to remain vigilant anytime we are in the water during the summer,” said Eiden.
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