South Whitley firefighter Jeffrey E. Sammons was just 21 years old when he was killed on Aug. 19, 1997, while battling a fire in Larwill, Ind. This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of his death. The South Whitley Fire Department and Sammons’ friends will gather this Sunday at Whitko High School to remember him. Sammons was killed in the line of duty in a blaze that destroyed the Farmer’s Exchange Tavern on SR 5 in Larwill. Three other South Whitley firemen were injured in the fire.
According to media reports from 1997, a “flashover” occurred when the four firemen were inside the burning tavern. One of the survivors called the incident “chaos.” Investigators believe Sammons’ mask may have gotten knocked off while the men were trying to escape the building.Efforts to revive Sammons at the scene were unsuccessful. The memorial this Sunday will have the group walk through the town of South Whitley with candles from Sammons’ grave to the fire station. There will also be a performance by the band Sum of 3 and a dinner for all who attend as his friends and family reflect on their friend.