Tyler Casey was born August 19‚ 1986‚ in Joplin‚ Missouri. Following in his stepfather’s footsteps‚ Tyler became a volunteer firefighter and trained storm spotter with the Seneca Area Fire Protection District. He served with the department for four years. With a growing passion for the fire service‚ Tyler enrolled in Fire 1 and 2 and EMT classes and was looking forward to getting on with one of the local career departments. With the eagerness to learn and his strong accountability‚ Tyler became a well respected firefighter‚ not only in his own department‚ but throughout the surrounding area departments as well.
Another passion of Tyler’s‚ was being a father to his three-year-old daughter. He loved spending every spare moment with her and watching her grow up before his eyes. Being brought up in a large family‚ Tyler hoped to give his daughter the same family atmosphere he had as a child.
On the evening of Saturday May 10‚ 2008‚ a county-wide call went out for storm spotters to mobilize for severe weather and possible tornados. With his training and knowledge‚ Tyler jumped into action and headed to one of the fire district’s designated spotting areas. While at the intersection of Highway 43 and Iris Road in Newton County‚ Missouri‚ he left his vehicle to alert a family that was parked on the side of the road watching the weather condition. At this exact time‚ an EF-4 tornado was heading straight for them. The family managed to escape‚ but Tyler was caught in the path of the oncoming tornado as it struck. He sustained serious injuries and was transported to Joplin’s Freeman West Hospital‚ where he was admitted and placed on life support. On Monday‚ May 12‚ 2008‚ at 1:35 p.m.‚ Tyler was removed from life support. A total of 14 people were killed by the tornado‚ with 200 injuries‚ including 90 people sent to the hospital.
Fellow firefighters remembered Tyler as very determined. Even before his initial probation period ended‚ he was helping teach the newer firefighters what he had just learned. After his death‚ Missouri’s Governor Matt Blunt issued a proclamation declaring May 17‚ 2008‚ Tyler Heath Casey Day.
Tyler was survived by his daughter‚ Taryn; his mother and stepmother‚ Rayma and Kyle Hinz; his father and stepmother‚ Jerry and Jackie Casey; five brothers; and one sister.
He was a good guy and a great firefighter. He was the littlest guy in our department‚ but he had the biggest heart. Even though he was soft spoken‚ his actions spoke loud and clear.