Line of Duty Deaths

Henry Erby
January 28, 1865 – November 11, 1900

On the evening of Sunday, November 11, 1900 the fire alarm sounded for a hotel fire. The Firefighters, Henry Erby being one of them, started to respond to the call of duty as they normally would. The responding unit had approached the corner of Main and Rodgers, opposite the Citizen’s National Bank and had about half crossed main street when the hook and ladder truck rushed up. Erby jumped back to avoid contact and the truck slowed up. Billy Patton was just behind the truck with the hose reel. It was impossible to stop his team behind the truck and he reined them around and was about to pass the truck when he observed the unfortunate man’s plight. With all his strength, Patton pulled the flying horses aside but Erby jumped in the same direction and landed squarely in front of the team. The pole struck him and knocked him down and a wheel quickly passed over his head. Friends helped to raise him up and he took two or three steps as if he was not seriously hurt, but very quickly dropped his head forward and collapsed. He was carried to Herring’s Drug Store where it was apparent that nothing could be done for him. About fifteen minutes later, Henry Erby had passed.

Henry Erby was a very prominent saloon man and he ran the Board of Trade Saloon that was on the west side of the square.  He was raised in Ellis County and married to Miss McKennon of Sardis. Together they had three children.

 
Tom Hatfield
The accident that caused Tom Hatfield's death occurred Friday, August 1st, 1924 when he was answering an alarm with the Waxahachie Fire Department shortly before 3 o’clock. The department had been called to a burning automobile on West Main Street. Both fire trucks responded to the call. By the time the first truck had reached the scene, the fire had been extinguished. When told the update on the fire, they slowed and motioned the second truck to do likewise. Not catching the signal, the second truck continued at a high rate of speed and when the driver had noticed that the other truck had stopped, it was too late to avoid an accident. The only option left was to either hit the first truck or run into the curb. Taking the latter option, the driver drove the second truck into the curb, knocking down a telephone pole. However, the truck continued hitting the other truck and causing the injury to Hatfield. Hatfield was riding on the side of the second truck and as the two trucks collided, the end of one of the ladders on the first truck struck him in the left arm and penetrated his body, breaking two ribs on the left side and three on the right side. He was also considerably bruised around his face and his left leg was broken above the ankle.

The injured man was immediately placed in the police car and taken to the Waxahachie hospital where examination by the attending physician revealed that he had died about the time he arrived there. He was then taken in the ambulance to the Spalding Undertaking Parlor where the body was prepared for burial.
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Herman Richard Tidwell
August 28, 1948-January 8, 1983

A 10-year veteran of the Waxahachie Fire Department, Herman Richard (Ricky) Tidwell, age 34, was killed in the line of duty on Saturday, January 8th, 1983 when an explosion ripped through Waxahachie Glass Company toppling a brick wall. The fire was reported to authorities at about 11 p.m. Saturday. Firemen were on scene immediately, but according to the Fire Marshall, Wendell Presley, the firemen didn’t realize the extent of the blaze. When firemen arrived at the scene, the area was thick with smoke, but none of the blaze was evident outside the building. According to reports, Tidwell and another fireman, Mike Slay, had started to enter the building and were standing in the open doorway when an explosion rocked the building, bringing down a brick wall on the north (Madison Street) side of the building, other walls and part of the roof of the structure. Tidwell was killed instantly when he was trapped under a pile of rubble. Slay received back injuries, but apparently was thrown clear of the collapsing wall. According to reports, Slay was hit in the back with several bricks. Others injured in the blaze were retired fire chief Willie Noel and two Waxahachie firemen, Don Bennett and Jimmy Turner.

Tidwell was a reserve police officer with Waxahachie Fire Department, a past volunteer with the Waxahachie Rural Fire Department and a current member of the Ellis County Firemen’s Association. Tidwell had been a fireman for a total of 15 years, having also served with the Ennis Fire Department.


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