Boston firefighters sifting through the ashes of a burned-out building found the wedding ring of Lt. Edward Walsh, a colleague who died there last week, and then rushed to Walsh's wake to present it to his widow.
“Four of us had sifters, and we just got scoops," Patty Donovan, one of the firefighters, told WCVB-TV. "You just go through it slowly, scoop after scoop, with your hands."
Walsh, 43, and another firefighter, 33-year-old Michael Kennedy, died while battling the nine-alarm blaze on Beacon Street. Officials say they were trapped in the basement as the wind-fueled fire ripped through the brownstone in Boston's Back Bay.
Donovan said firefighters had already searched the firehouse for Walsh's wedding band and were back at the scene when they discovered the ring among the charred debris. The group then scrambled to get to Walsh's wake at St. Patrick Parish in Watertown, Mass., where mourners had already gathered.
"We weren’t all that clean ... but we wanted to get over there before the wake was over," Donovan said. "When we presented the ring to her at the wake, she slipped it on her finger and she started crying."
“They surrounded her like second family," John Tobin, a former Boston City Councilor who was at the service, said. "Even though we didn’t know what they were giving to her, it was incredibly moving."
Walsh, a nine-year veteran of the department, is also survived his three young children. His funeral was attended by hundreds of fellow firefighters on Wednesday.
“He was destined to do great things, and he did,” Kathy Malone, Walsh's sister, said at the memorial.