Yarnell Hill fire tribute video: Families come to grips with loss of 19 Prescott firefighters
12:39 PM, Jul 3, 2013
PRESCOTT, Ariz. - The families of 19 firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire are coming to grips with their losses.
On Tuesday, NewsChannel5 Scripps sister station KNXV sat down with the family of 22-year-old Wade Parker. Wade followed in the footsteps of his father, Dan, who has been a Chino Valley firefighter for 20 years.
"It's what he lived for. He couldn't wait every time to go," said Dan.
Dan was at his fire station on Sunday and remembers hearing about a group of men in danger.
"I was on duty that day when we heard there might be trouble," said Dan.
He didn't find out his son was one of the men killed until he drove to the fire.
Wade's mother, Michelle, said she had plans to spend time with Wade on Sunday.
"I didn't know he was out there and we were supposed to go do something and I was trying to get ahold of him, and he texted me and said he was there and that he was really hot and he had a headache and to pray for him," recalled Michelle.
Watch a memorial montage of the 19 fallen firefighters:
Wade's younger brother, D.J., said he always talked to his brother through text messages on Sunday.
"Texted him right before, I think it might have been an hour or two before all this happened," D.J. said. "Told him to be safe, and he didn't keep his promise. At least I got to talk to him, though."
Parker was engaged to his high school sweetheart, Alicia Owens.
Owens said she started dating Wade when she was 14 years old.
Seven years later, she planned to spend the rest of her life with him after Wade proposed to her at Disneyland as fireworks lit up the sky above Cinderella Castle.
"I just liked turned around and he was on one knee. He had this whole speech he said but he was so nervous he just said 'baby, I can't live without you. Will you marry me?' I said yes, obviously, and so we were supposed to get married in October - only about 3 months away.
A fairytale story with a tragic ending.
"I just loved him with all my heart and I really with that we could have gotten married," said a tearful Owens. "But I know I'll always be a part of his family and I'm just gonna miss him a lot but I know he's up there and that I'm going to see him again."
Michelle said her son loved playing baseball. He grew up with a bow and arrow and made archery a hobby as he got older.
But it's Wade's character and charisma that his family will miss the most.
"He always thought of others and that's probably the thing I was proud of the most," said Dan.
"When I think of Wade I think of when he was little. He just had this big smile with his little dimple right here all the time and he was just always so happy and so I just see that big cute smile," added Michelle.
Wade's two older sisters said he loved being a firefighter, but he was so much more including an athlete, a Christian, and a family man.
"I just miss talking to him and helping him and him helping me and him being with my kids," said Amber McMains.
"I'm gonna miss hugging him because when you hugged him, when I hugged him, I could feel his goodness and his love, you know. You could feel it radiating and I'll miss his smile the most," said Carrie Morena.
Despite his tragic death, the family is at peace knowing Wade was comfortable with who he was and his work as a firefighter.
"There's no loose ends, I guess, with who he was. He was just very well rounded and he was just so good that it just somehow feels like it's going to be okay," said Morena.