Five Years After Firefighter's Death, Fire Departments Fundraise for Injured 'Brother'

McCutchanville firefighters have been stirring up giant pots of chili for five years now, putting smiles on the faces of the people who eat it.

But for some, the chili cookout is also a sad reminder.

"I remember the night, you know, very distinctively in my mind. My brother telling me, you know, one of the firefighters in McCutchanville had died,” McCutchanville firefighter Jeremy Nelson said Sunday.

In 2012, Jeremy Nelson's high school friend Jeremy Tighe was in a fire truck heading down St. Joeseph, just down the road from the McCutchanville station. The fire truck flipped, and the 18-year-old Tighe was killed.

"Jeremy was definitely a big-hearted person. He definitely had a lot of friends,” Jeremy’s sister Morgan Tighe said.

After his death, his friends got to work. With the help of Tighe's mother and sister, the chili cookout was born.

Year after year, the proceeds from the cookout have gone to the charities of the Tighe family’s choice.

Jeremy Nelson is in charge of PR this year. He knew he wanted to be a firefighter at a young age.

“But, I honestly can say that the passing of Jeremy Tighe was really that push I needed to finally just turn in that application, and just be a part of that brotherhood,” Nelson said.

Last week, a motorcycle wreck near the intersection of the Lloyd Expressway and Rosenberger nearly took the life of German Township firefighter Chris Taylor, and changed the focus of this year's chili cookout.

The wreck left Taylor with severe injuries, including brain damage.

 “Your instinctive action is to jump to try and do anything you can, you know. Go to the hospital. See him. Help him,” Nelson said.

He and the McCutchaville fire department certainly are helping him. The proceeds from this year's cookout are going to help pay for Taylor's medical bills.

It was an easy choice for the Tighe family.

"It hurts all of us, and it definitely affects us, because you know, we know the feeling of losing a firefighter,” Morgan Tighe said.

Two of the many in attendance Sunday were Taylor's parents, Scott and Robin Taylor, who received a surprise phone call.

"Ok, love you. Bye. Yay, he called me,” Robin Taylor said, hanging up with her son.

It was Chris’ first phone call after the wreck.

"He’s doing so much better. I mean, he's in rehab. He's still having a little trouble with his memory, but his physical is getting a lot better,” Scott Taylor said.

As happy as they were to hear from their son, the Taylors said the support from the community is everything.

“We didn't realize how intermeshed all of the firefighters were. It's a brotherhood, sisterhood, and we had no clue to what extent this really was,” Robin Taylor said.

Both parents said they're hopeful to get their son back home in a few weeks, but it might be tricky with the nature of his injuries.

The McCutchanville firefighters say their goal was to raise more than 1,000 dollars for Taylor's medical bills, to supplement his gofundme page.


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