Meet the Sole Surviving Arizona Firefighter
He is 21-year-old Brendan McDonough. Now leave him alone
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2013 6:24 AM CDT
Surviving firefighter Brendan McDonough embraces a mourner near the end of a candlelight vigil in Prescott, Arizona.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

(Newser) – Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighter crew perished in Arizona last week, but one lone member survived. After days of mounting media scrutiny, his identity has been revealed: He is 21-year-old Brendan McDonough, the Arizona Republic reports. But now that you know, says the Prescott Fire Department, please leave him alone. "He is very distraught, as you might think,” says department spokesman Wade Ward. "He is very emotional. He’s got all the questions, the why and the why not. He’s concerned for the families mostly. I can tell you Brendan has no desire to speak to anybody at this point."

McDonough survived because he was on a hill acting as a lookout while his crewmates battled the blaze down below. When he saw the fire changing direction, he radioed his crew that conditions were changing, told them he was fleeing, and left for a new location. Investigators will now examine whether the crew should have been pulled out earlier or if more precautions could have been taken, the AP reports. But local fire authorities say McDonough followed procedure and acted as his post required. "He did exactly what he was supposed to," says Ward. Meanwhile, one of the doomed firefighters sent his wife a final photo.

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Jul 3, 2013 9:13 AM CDT
Correction! There ARE answers to EVERYTHING. The old adage is true: "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." -- Albert Einstein Mr. McDonough, while no one on this Earth knows all the answers, please do not think that there are no reasons. Just because WE don't know the reasons doesn't mean there aren't reasons. This thing called "life" is bigger than any of us can possibly understand... for now. My prayer is that you find the solace in the true Jesus, the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Not trying to be religious, just trying to be pragmatic.)
Jul 3, 2013 8:48 AM CDT
Pity the Dead. And the Living.
Jul 3, 2013 6:30 AM CDT
Young man, your mind will buzz with questions and you will feel all the emotions that flood along with them. You did your job. You followed procedure. You are alive ... Why? There's no answer to that question, Brendan. You just are ... It doesn't mean anything ... anything at all beyond what YOU make it mean. ... and your mind will ruminate on it anyway. Congratulations, Brendan. Thank you for your service. Welcome to the rest of your life.