First responders paid a heavy toll in West disaster

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on April 20, 2013 at 5:39 PM

WEST, Texas — Jerry Chapman and Cyrus Reed were volunteers at the Abbott Fire Company. Both worked there for nearly four years.

And firefighter Perry Calvin often assisted the town of Abbott.

All three were in West when the fire at the fertilizer plant broke out on Wednesday evening. They were taking EMT classes, and were one week from graduating.

They all responded immediately.

They all died.

Russell Strickland is a firefighter and a good friend of all of them. He was heartbroken after hearing the news of their deaths Friday morning.

Strickland was the one to break the news to the Chapman family.

"The lump that builds up in your throat when you have to tell someone that information... about the only words you can say is, 'I'm sorry.'"

The mayor of Abbott, Harry Nors, is also devastated.

"I don’t want the details; It will just hurt worse," he said.

On Saturday, proceeds from meals purchased at the Black Eyed Pea in Hillsboro — a place where Jerry Chapman worked — were earmarked to help the Chapman family.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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