Families remember Houston firefighters killed in Southwest Inn fire 5 years ago
HOUSTON – Every year, the people who loved them come here to remember.
Four small crosses mark the place where Matthew Renaud, Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan died.
Sullivan was a rookie who told her mother if she ever died in the line of duty she'd have no regrets.
"She's OK. It's just me and everybody she left behind that's not doing so well sometimes. I try to model myself after her and try, except for days like today to be tough," said Ann Sullivan, her mother.
It's tough as well for Robert Bebee's mother, Sabina.
"We don't think that he died in vain. He died doing what he loved, you know? And, everybody just remembers him as a caring person, fun loving," she said.
It was a smoldering attic fire at the Southwest Inn that erupted into a five-alarm inferno. Believing people were trapped inside, the firefighters went in to find them. They were killed when the roof collapsed.
Capt. Bill Dowling, who led them, survived with terrible injuries. He died four years later.
District Chief Curtis Seamans was the incident commander that day. He has since retired.
"My father has died, different people have died in my life, but none of it's like this was. This is the greatest tragedy probably I'll ever see," he said.
Seamans says returning to relive that awful day is painful, but the pain is mixed with pride for their bravery.
Every year since the deadly happened, he and the firefighters, friends, relatives and others who knew them come back to remember their loved ones. They mourn as a family, and ask that we remember them and all the others like them, too.
"Think about 'em once in a while. Say a prayer for them, and just be any kind of way they can help, it all adds up," Seamans said.
The Anne Sullivan Elementary School in the Fort Bend ISD where Sullivan’s mother teaches was named in her honor.
A lawsuit filed 2016 by the families of those killed alleges the Motorola radios they were carrying didn't work properly, contributing to the firefighters’ deaths.
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