Updated: 01/29/2014 5:31 PM
Created: 01/29/2014 7:02 AM WHEC.com
A community said goodbye Wednesday to a hero. People in Rochester and from across the country came to Fairport to pay their respects to a nine-year-old boy, who died, trying to save his family members.
Tyler Doohan was killed in a mobile home fire last week. Tyler woke up six of his relatives and then went back in to try and save two other, Louis Beach and Stephen Smith. None of them made it back out. All three victims were laid to rest. But the story that has made headlines across the country is about what young Tyler did.
The service was at St. John of Rochester. One thing that was clear was that this was three generations of people who would have done anything for those they loved. Family members said Louis Beach and Stephen Smith would literally give you the shirt off their back and that’s where Tyler Doohan learned to put others before himself.
Crystal Vrooman, Tyler’s mother, said, “To my sweet little boy, I don’t know where to start. I’m still in shock. We’ll miss you so much, we already do.”
It was a heartbreaking day, as those who knew and loved Tyler Doohan said their final goodbyes. Those close to Tyler describe him as a loving, caring boy.
William, Tyler’s classmate, said, “He was nice and funny. He always used to play with me.”
Heather, Son went to school with Tyler, said, “It has been a very difficult experience for us. We knew Tyler before he joined the East Rochester community. He was a wonderful friend to my son and just a great little boy. He is really going to be missed.”
Even people miles away were touched by Tyler’s actions.
Phil Buderic, Silver Lake College of Holy Family Basketball Coach, said, “Compassion has no end and community has no boundaries.”
It was that sense of community that brought a group of basketball players all the way from Wisconsin. They wanted to serve as the pallbearers, showing their respect for a young here.
Buderic said, “It was absolute unconditional love by a 9-year-old to reach in the manner that he did. It was just amazing. I think it is important for young people to understand who a true hero is.”
Denise Alfieri, Tyler’s teacher, said, “Many of you sitting here today only knew Tyler as a heroic 9-year-old who saved six family members and lost his life trying to safe two more. Although Tyler left this world in a spectacular manner, I would like to tell you about the quiet boy who sat in the front row.”
Denise Alfieri was Tyler’s fourth grade teacher. She smiled as she remembers how much Tyler loved math and drawing
Alfieri said, “Tyler, I will miss you every day. To be honest, I still look for you to walk threw those doors, just to see you smile one more time.”
Tyler’s friends and family say they are proud to have known such a brave young boy. A group of firefighters wanted to honor Tyler too. The Penfield Fire Chief presented this helmet, naming him an honorary firefighter.
Chief Chris Ebmeyer, Penfield Fire Chief, said, “Everyone felt that Tyler needed to be honored in a way that would reflect what he did that morning. His courage, heroism that he displayed for such a young individual, at eight years of age, Tyler proved there is good in everybody.”
For this family, the helmet is something to hold onto as they remember the nine-year-old boy who was braver than most.
Vrooman said, “I wish you were here for me to hold one more time.”
Tyler Doohan was a fourth grader at the East Rochester Elementary School. His teacher said his classmates have made memory books to help cope and to always remember Tyler.