The shocking images of Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone toppling over the outfield railing at Rangers Ballpark and later dying last Thursday night have faded from the front page spots they filled in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
But for the family, friends and coworkers of the 39-year-old Brownwood, Texas, firefighter, the sudden feeling of loss lingers.
Hunderds turned out for a funeral procession in the town 150 miles outside of Fort Worth, and more than 60 emergency vehicles led the line of cars during the eight-mile journey from a Brownwood church to Stone’s final resting place.
Cooper Stone — Stone’s six-year-old son who was in the stands when his father fell trying to catch a ball tossed by Rangers star outfielder Josh Hamilton — walked hand-in-hand with his mother, Jenny Stone, behind a fire truck carrying his father’s coffin.
A two-time Firefighter of the Year as chosen by his peers, the 18-year firefighting veteran was remembered fondly for his service to the community during a memorial service before nearly 1,000 grievers.
For loved ones of first responders, the threat of suddenly becoming a widow or father- or mother-less child is always present, but when a firefighter or police officer dies off the clock, it can be even more jarring.
“When you’re married to someone that’s a first responder ... you always are leery that you’re going to get that phone call or you’re going to have the chaplain come,” said Trease Burke, whose husband, Scotty, was a Brownwood police officer for 14 years and is now on the Lake Patrol. “You don’t expect it to be a freak accident.”
Rangers team president Nolan Ryan last week spoke with Jenny Stone last week following her husband’s death. In a press conference Ryan said Rangers Ballpark’s rails “exceed code” are but said that the organization will look into improving safety measures at the stadium because “our number one concern is the safety of our fans.”
The Rangers have already started a memorial fund for Stone’s family.
More coverage of Stone’s tragic fall at Rangers Ballpark