Victims' Determination, Compassion Recalled
Monday, September 29, 2008
A retired state police corporal who went to work as a civilian medical evacuation pilot. A police paramedic who was a new father. A mother who had volunteered as an emergency medical technician for four years. A teenager who had graduated from high school this year.
They died together early yesterday morning when a Maryland State Police medevac helicopter crashed in Walker Mill Regional Park in Prince George's County as it flew two injured teens from a car accident in Charles County.
Authorities identified those killed as pilot Stephen J. Bunker, 59; Maryland State Trooper 1st Class Mickey C. Lippy, 34; Tonya Mallard, 39, a volunteer emergency medical technician; and Ashley J. Younger, 17, one of the victims in the vehicle crash. Jordan Wells, 18, another of the vehicle accident victims, survived and was in critical condition.
Dawn Childs, Lippy's older sister, said her brother was a devoted husband and father who "died doing what he loved, the only thing he had ever wanted to do."
The family gathered yesterday at Lippy's home in Carroll County to comfort his wife, Christina, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Madison, in May.
"He only got to spend four months with his baby," Childs said, choking back tears.
Lippy wanted to be a paramedic since he stuck his arm through a glass door when he was 3 years old, Childs said.
"He had to have major surgery on his arm, and, I guess, because of that, being in and out of the hospital so long when he was 3," said Childs, 40, who said she still vividly remembers how Lippy would rush home from grade school to watch "Emergency!," the 1970s television show about paramedics and firefighters.
Lippy began working as a volunteer firefighter as a teenager, as soon as he could drive, Childs said. When he became a state trooper four years ago, he worked patrol for less than a year, Childs said, before applying for the aviation unit.
Bunker, married and the father of three children, was a state police officer from 1972 until his retirement in 1998. He returned to service as a civilian pilot for the department. He had lived with his wife, Sherry, in their Waldorf neighborhood for 20 years. Neighbors say Bunker loved his job and worked long hours.
"If you looked at him, you would say, 'He just looks like a police officer,' " said Rose Marie Drish, 42. "There was a lot of peace here in this neighborhood because of him."
Mallard, a volunteer member of the Waldorf Rescue Squad, was one of the first on the scene of the Charles car accident.