FDNY Mourning Loss of Veteran Firefighter Who Died in Fall from Roof in Queens

CBS 2 - April 21, 2017

by CBS Local

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters are mourning the loss of one of their own after veteran firefighter William Tolley fell five stories to his death while battling a fire in Queens.

Black and purple bunting will be hung from the facade of Ladder 135 Engine 286 Friday as a makeshift memorial continues to grow.

Standing at attention with their hands held to their forehead in salute, members of the FDNY honored their fallen brother as he was carried out from Wycoff Medical Center Thursday night.

“A man dedicated to protecting others gave his life for this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. He said Tolley “made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Tolley, 42, was responding to a routine call just before 2:30 p.m. to a single unit apartment fire on Putman Avenue allowing with his fellow firefighters.

Tolley was standing on the roof of the five-story building when something went terribly wrong.

“I seen the fireman go up the ladder, go in the white thing, the bucket,” said witness Michael Lewis. “Then the ladder shakes.I don’t know why it jerks or shakes but after it shakes, he fall out.”

The 14-year FDNY veteran fell to his death. Shock and agony spread through the fire company as members stood by horrified and heartbroken while witnesses watched in shock.

“For me, this guy went out as a hero,” said witness Norberto Arellano. “He was doing his job.”

Investigators are still working to understand what went wrong.

“It was really in the operation that he was performing on the roof, which is a routine operation for us, and somehow he fell from the roof,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, who called Tolley’s death “a terrible tragedy for the department.”

Tolley is from Bethpage, Long Island. He leaves behind his wife, Maria, 8-year-old daughter Isabella, his brother and parents.

The FDNY Foundation has set up a William N. Tolley’s Children’s Educational Fund. To donate, visit www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate and select the fund from the drop down menu.