KCFD off-duty death


May 20, 2010
KC Metro
RIP brother :cry:

KCMO Firefighter's Body Recovered From Longview Lake--

Officials said Monday afternoon they had recovered the body of a Kansas City, Mo., firefighter from Longview Lake.

Crews had searched for more than 24 hours in the water off Longview Lake since Sunday for the body of 48-year-old Gerald Lavallee. Officials said the body was found at about 5 p.m. Monday.

Lavallee was a 16-year veteran of the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department. He worked at fire station No. 37 in the Waldo area as an apparatus operator. Lavallee struck a boat driven by a co-worker, 47-year-old Capt. Ron Gibbs. Gibbs has been captain of fire station 37 since 1998.

"The guys he worked with said he really enjoyed coming to work, had a good rapport with the fellows," Battalion Chief Joe Vitale said. "He really enjoyed working with the young firefighters to train them."

A call for rescue came in about 7 p.m. Sunday after the collision of a WaveRunner and a deck boat, officials said. The deck boat was full of friends of the firefighter and driven by Lavallee's captain, 47-year-old Capt. Ron Gibbs. Gibbs is a 23-year veteran of the fire department and has been captain of station No. 37 since 1998.

On Sunday night, fire Chief Smokey Dyer said crews were in search and recovery mode.

The collision happened on Little Blue Arm, which is directly west of Mouse Creek. Little Blue Arm is located in Lee's Summit, while Mouse Creek is located in Kansas City, Mo. The Lee's Summit's underwater recovery team, Kansas City Fire Department's sonar team and the Missouri Water Patrol sonar team were all participating in the search.

"It was a relatively large area, so it took us some time," Kim Davis, of the Missouri Water Patrol, said. "We had to get the right equipment in there to help us. And it's just a slow, diligent process."

"We consider firefighters as much law enforcement as we are," Missouri Water Patrol Lt. Ralph Bledsoe had said Sunday. "It's a brotherhood and we are very much wanting them to get satisfaction in this, and we're going to stay out here with them until we can provide them their firefighter back."

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Now comes the next slow process of healing.

"It leaves a bit of a void, but you work together as a group, and you're going to move on," Vitale said. "But that doesn't mean you forget. There's still a place in your heart for someone you've built a camaraderie with."

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