As a child, Mickey Lippy dreamed of becoming a rescuer and pretended to fight fires with a vacuum cleaner hose and transport victims on an old TV stand that doubled as a makeshift gurney.
The Carroll County resident, who realized that aspiration by growing up to become a state police flight paramedic, lost his life in a medevac helicopter crash last weekend in Prince George's County. The 34-year-old trooper's lifelong desire to help others was remembered yesterday during a funeral service in Gamber attended by family and friends, and hundreds of fire, police and emergency rescue personnel.
"We will never understand the reasons why a young man in the prime of his life was taken this way," said Col. Terrence B. Sheridan, superintendent of the Maryland State Police. "But we know that while he was with us, he lived a life that was an example of selfless service to others."
The helicopter crashed in bad weather while transporting two teenage victims of a Charles County car accident to a hospital. Also killed were the pilot, Stephen H. Bunker, 59, of Waldorf; Tonya Mallard, 38, an emergency medical technician from the Waldorf rescue squad; and Ashley J. Younger, 17, a passenger in one of the cars that collided. The lone survivor was Jordan Wells, 18, a college freshman who was driving the car in which Ashley was a passenger.
"As we remember Mickey Lippy today, we must remember the other individuals who lost their lives and their families," said the Rev. Michael C. Adams, chaplain of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command, who presided over the service.
Yesterday's service was held in the social hall at the Gamber & Community Fire Company and attended by members of the public safety community from across Maryland and as far away as New Jersey. Cars and police and fire vehicles packed the parking lot and lined Niner Road.
Inside the hall, a Maryland flag lay across Trooper Lippy's coffin, which also was adorned with the many hats he wore during his career. Before becoming flight paramedic, the Baltimore native served first as an EMS lieutenant for the Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Department before becoming a firefighter paramedic with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. In 2004, he joined the Gamber department.
During his four years as a flight paramedic, Trooper Lippy had made his mark, his colleagues said.
"He touched not only our lives in a positive way, but he also touched the lives of the many patients he treated aboard our helicopters," said Maj. Andrew J. McAndrew, commander of the Aviation Command.
Said Colonel Sheridan, "He became one of the few men and women in our society who step up and say, 'I'll be there when you need me.' "
Trooper Lippy's widow, Christina, had worked with him at the Gamber company, where she was an EMT. She gave birth to a daughter, Madison, four months ago. The family lives in Westminster.
"She's also a part-time EMT as well, so we feel it tenfold," said Bruce Bouch, public information officer for the Gamber company. "The pain she feels, we feel it as well, but as the largest brotherhood and sisterhood in the entire world, we're always going to be there for her and help in any aspect necessary to make sure that Madison has a proper upbringing and she has all the support she needs to do that."
Among those who gave remarks during the service was Gov. Martin O'Malley, who said he met with Trooper Lippy's family Thursday night.
"He dedicated his life to saving the lives of others," the governor said. "He was able to fulfill what I have come to understand was a dream he had from his earliest days of serving as a Maryland State trooper flight paramedic."
Following the service, Trooper Lippy was buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium. His coffin was borne by the flower-adorned Owings Mills Fire Engine No. 312 as it departed Gamber.
Services for two other victims of the crash are scheduled for today. The funeral for Stephen Bunker will be conducted at 11 a.m. at South Potomac Church, 4915 Crain Highway, White Plains. Burial will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland. The service for Tonya Mallard will be at 9 a.m. at North Point High School, 2500 Davis Road, Waldorf. Burial will follow at Dulaney Valley.