Wilmington’s Fallen: Hundreds Pay Respect At Funeral Of LT. Leach

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Wilmington: As an American Flag hangs over the gray skies from the ladder trucks of Talleyville fire Company and Wilmington Fire Department, funeral services were getting underway for LT. Christopher Leach, who lost his life last Saturday in a blaze that officials say was the work of arson.

Just before 9:00 A.M. a motorcade of hundreds of emergency responder vehicles made it’s way down S. Broom St towards St. Elizabeth Church. In the back of a fire truck laid the casket of Wilmington’s hero, LT. Christopher Leach.

As the fire truck made it’s way to the front of the church, hundreds of people, including emergency responder personnel stood at attention as Philadelphia Police played bagpipes and drums that played solemnly.

Outside the church, some grieved, others stood silently. A few people grabbed their cell phones to snap pictures, or take videos of the motorcade and procession to remember years later Wilmington’s fallen heroes.

The service was live-streamed from inside the church for those who could not make attend. A Flag flown from one ladder truck to another, billowed over the light rain and gray skies.

A joint memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. The service is expected to draw at least 2,000, with first responders from around the country expected.

Senator Tom Carper is expected to attend that service and present flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol to the families of the fallen. He recently honored the two men at the senate.

According to court documents, Fana-Ruiz told investigators she was drunk and on anxiety medication when she went to the basement to get her things. Instead, investigators say she confessed to lighting the fire in the basement.

Beatriz Fana-Ruiz is charged with two counts of first-degree murder; one count of first-degree arson; four counts of second-degree assault in the injuries of other firefighters involved; and seven counts of reckless endangerment, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Officials were able to charge her with first degree murder due to Delaware law that covers first responders who lose their lives while serving due to the “reckless behavior” of an individual. The law originally only covered on-duty police officers, corrections employees and firefighters but was extended in 2009 to cover paramedics, EMTs, fire marshals and fire police officers after the death of Michelle Smith, a Delaware City firefighter who was sideswiped by a passing car and killed along U.S. 13.

Although, two firefighters were released, two other firefighters, Ardythe Hope and Brad Speakman remain hospitalized at Crozer Chester Medical Center.

In a recent press release, Wilmington Battalion Chief James Jobes said, “Speakman was upgraded to stable condition Wednesday and Hope remains in stable but critical condition”.

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