In honor of the Yarnell 19 – How High Do Angels Fly


A dear friend of mine and semi-frequent attendant of The Blue Bar or the Turf’s oval, woke up suddenly on a clear crisp starlit Arizona morning.

“Uh, that hurts,” she said in a sleepy whisper.  She looked at her arm through the milky view of just waking up.

“What’s up?” her husband of only months asked while his face was half-buried into the coolness of his pillow.

She didn’t answer right away.  “Yeah, that really hurts.”

“What hurts?”

“My right arm hurts and feels kind of weird.”

“Okay.  She took in another breath.  Now that really hurts,” she said through a grimace of pain.  “My other arm hurts but is more numb than anything.”

Her husband raised his head, “What’s it feel like?”

“I can’t explain it.  They feel numb but they hurt a bit. Okay, they hurt a lot.”  She paused to feel the feeling.  “I have to get up.  This is weird.”

“Do you want me to call 911?”


Mistake number one. . . !  She missed the outside of the plate pitch.  Strike one!

Minutes of seemingly hours passed.  “How are you doing, honey?” Hubby who we will call Rob, propped himself up on one elbow in bed and listened carefully for any answer of a worry.

She submitted to her stubbornness.  “You need to call 911.  The front of my neck and behind it on my back is really starting to hurt.”

“Nine, one, one, what is you emergency?”

“My wife is have some severe pains in her arms and neck.”

“Is she talking?”


Mistake number two. . . !  Right down the pike.  That’s two strikes!

“Okay Sir, we will send the paramedics.  Is she still talking?”


Rob got dressed and went to the front door to see if he could see any sign of help. My friend put on a better looking shirt and some gym pants so she wouldn’t appear undressed.

She looked down at the shirt she had put on and thought to herself that she needed to change into something more disposable because somehow she knew they would cut her shirt off if they had to and she’d only bought this particular shirt three days ago and really liked it.

Their home is out-of-the-way, tucked in a transitional zone of ponderosa pine forest to the beautiful Sonoran desert mountainside in the out-of-the-way town named Dewey, Arizona near the larger town of Prescott.

A Paulo Soleri founded commune called Arcosanti sits within this transition zone and shares similar elevation east of the Black Canyon freeway termed as I-17.  Arcosanti is an “Arcology,” a word used by Soleri to describe the harmonious marriage of architecture and ecology.

Unlike Wright, with whom he studied, Soleri believes that it is the physical dispersal in the landscape permitted by the automobile that has led to moral and spiritual dispersal in society.

I believe Angels hang out there.  It’s that spiritual.

Visit it.  Do the tour.  You will then see that this is sacred ground and is protected by special beliefs.  There are special people who live in this zone.

Rob stood watch at the door and when he could see the flickering of red lights coming up the long road he flashed the porch light on an off a hundred times so the rescuers of his new wife would notice the distress call.

The ambulance arrived followed by a larger support truck.

“What are you feeling, Ma’am?”

My friend went through the whole story that Rob had told to the dispatcher as they attached wires and a blood pressure gauge to her arm.  More hourly minutes passed.  The paramedics clipped away the cloth of the shirt and attached an EKG to her chest.

She watched for emotion as the men peered at the resulting ribbon of graph paper to examine the results.  They appeared to act normal.

Nothing out of the ordinary except for the weakness in each arm and the pain.  BP is perfect, heart rate fine, breathing is right on.  She and they knew there was something lurking in the shallows and was about to become a big problem  It was only a matter of time.

“It’s starting to go away,” she announced.

Fast ball right over the plate!  Didn’t even see it!  No need for another pitch of life for you!

“Miss, we are going to take you to the hospital for some more testing.  You’ll be fine,” one of the firemen said as he neared her with the gurney.  “Let’s get her loaded up.”

A few minutes later she was strapped in flat on her back and being wheeled to the open doors of the ambulance.  A couple of clunks and a rattle of the gurney and she was lying there staring at the ceiling.  Then the ceiling opened up and she could see the clouds.

She described the clouds she could see dark and motionless like they were filled with rain.  Their edges were brightly lit and shiny from the full moon hidden behind them.

‘Wow, this is nice, they have a skylight in this rig,’ she thought.   Her thoughts stopped.

Rob rushed out to the front doorway with clothes and a purse in his hand.  A paramedic clambered out the back door and slammed it shut.

“We doing good, right? Rob asked as he gave a thumbs up to the uniformed man.

“No, we are not doing good at all,” the man said as he rushed to the passenger side of the truck.

Rob looked up and stared in disbelief of what he could see through the back window.  The efforts of a man performing life-saving compressions as the vehicle left their driveway with lights and sirens ablaze were as clear as the cloudless night above.

The Umpire sounded his decision without question.  Strike three.  You’re out!

Continued. . .

— Time Travel Time —

A day in Somerville, Massachusetts in July.  Elevation 12 feet ASL.

This is sacred ground and is protected by special beliefs.

An off-duty Somerville firefighter braved a raging flash flood to pull a woman off the roof of her floating car and drag her to safety as a pounding rainstorm hit the Boston area.

“He saved my life,” said Christine Broderick, 45, of Somerville, who wore a soaked “I’m Purrfect” T-shirt with a picture of a cat.

Her car and at least four other vehicles were trapped when heavy rainwater flooded the Fellsway Tunnel along the McGrath Highway in Somerville one afternoon.  Fortunately for Broderick, firefighter Michael Marino of Engine 1 was on his way to work when the cars were stranded.

“It just took my car,” Broderick said. “It started doing circles. I can’t swim. I had to climb out on my roof.”


That’s where Marino found her. He used a white lifesaver doughnut attached to a rope to pull her to safety. He waded into the sewage-strewn water and pulled Broderick off her car roof and back on to the road, where she was hosed off and brought home by state police.

“She was a little nervous, she lost her glasses and said she couldn’t swim,” said Marino, a former Navy diver. “I talked to her and tried to calm her down. I asked her, ‘What she was having for dinner?’ ”

Hours later the two reunited on McGrath highway with a big smile and hug. Broderick said: “I’m glad you were there. I don’t know what I would have done. He’s a lifesaver; he deserves a medal.”

Driving behind Broderick as the flood hit was Jennifer DeLacey, 19, of Malden, taking a friend home in a 1996 Honda Accord after a day in Harvard Square.

She said she saw Broderick’s Hyundai Santa Fe in trouble as the water began rising around her own car. “I tried to back out but the car kept spinning,” DeLacey said. She said she panicked and called her dad on her cell phone. She tried to back up out of the tunnel but the car was stuck. “I pushed the door open and the water came rushing in,” she said.

DeLacey and her friend escaped on foot, though she lost her gold-colored flats and her phone.

Okay, now he’s a hero.  Yep, he’s definitely a hero in my mind.

— Time Travel Time —

During the Ides of March in Westmont, Illinois.  Elevation 755 ASL.

This is sacred ground and is protected by special beliefs.  Very special beliefs.

A Westmont police officer and firefighter scoffed at being called heroes Tuesday despite diving into a frigid retention pond to save an elderly couple whose car plunged into the water.

“I didn’t think about what I was doing; I just did it,” Officer Jennifer Muska said. “In a situation like that your adrenaline kicks in.”

Added firefighter Brendan Sullivan, “It’s just part of the job. I won’t say I’m a hero.”


Police said Westmont residents LeRoy Hurlburt, 67, and his wife, Perla, 70, were traveling south on Richmond Avenue near 63rd Street on Monday evening when their 1992 Toyota Tercel veered right and entered the pond.

Muska, 27, the first responder, said it was dark, but she spotted a man moving his arms in the water. Muska jumped into the chilly water and swam to LeRoy Hurlburt, about 15 feet from the shore. Muska said the man was alert and floating on his back.

After pulling him to shore, Muska saw a woman in the water. The officer jumped back into the pond but had to return to shore because the water was too cold and murky, she said.

Minutes later, firefighters arrived, and Sullivan, 20, immediately entered the water. He said he was guided to the submerged vehicle by the smell of gasoline but could not see anything.  Sullivan said there was no sign of Perla Hurlburt until he felt her hair under the water.  He then pulled her to the surface.

She was taken to the shore, where a second firefighter performed CPR on the woman, who was estimated to have been underwater for about 10 minutes and was not breathing.

LeRoy Hurlburt is in good condition, but his wife remained in critical condition at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

Both Muska and Sullivan were taken to the hospital and later released.

Chief of Police Thomas Mulhearn said LeRoy Hurlburt called from his hospital bed and asked to have his thanks passed along to Muska and Sullivan.

Brendan?  Jennifer, are you listening?  I’m saying thanks and you are heroes in my book even if you don’t want to be called that.

— Time Travel Time —

A hot windy day in June in Yarnell, Arizona, between 3:42 and 4:30 p.m. on the 30th.  Last contact, 4:42.  Elevation 4,780 feet ASL.

This is the land of angels.  This is sacred ground and is protected by special beliefs.  Very special.  Very very very special!


Several voices could be heard on the radio, some of which were identifiable and some of which were not.  Eric Marsh had a distinctive voice, soft and slow, and it is reasonably certain the transmissions that were recorded are his.

The transmissions occur between 3:42 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on June 30, 2013. The last known radio transmission from the doomed Hotshots occurred at 4:42 p.m. when Marsh confirmed that he was with the Hotshots and that they were deploying fire shelters.

imagesThe first communication at 3:42 p.m. is brief.

“Division Alpha, Operations Musser,” indicates that Musser called Marsh on the radio.

This may be part of an exchange referred to in the ADOSH report, which indicates that sometime between 3:45 and 4:00, Musser requested that Granite Mountain IHC send some resources down to Yarnell – and that the Hotshots refused this request.

The second communication at roughly 3:50 p.m. was alluded to in later reports, but the full quote, which adds the promise of air support, was not reported. This conversation indicates that Todd Abel, IMT operations chief, knew that Marsh was making his way down first, ahead of the crew. Abel advises that the crew should hunker and be safe in the meantime. Abel says in SAIT interview notes that he does not remember the exchange.

Marsh:  “I’m trying to work my way off the top.”

Eric Marsh

Todd Abel, operations section chief:  “Okay copy, just keep me updated, uh you know, you guys hunker and be safe and then we’ll get some air support down there ASAP.”

The third communication involved several voices and occurred at 4:13 p.m., about 13 minutes later.  Someone says the Hotshots are “working their way down into the structures,” indicating that it may have been understood that they were heading for Yarnell to take part in structure protection.  It has never been confirmed as fact that the Hotshots intended to help protect homes. If indeed Marsh was at or near the Boulder Springs Ranch, then he could have been acting as lookout and could have flagged the route down to the ranch for his crew.

Voice 1:  “Division Alpha, what’s your status right now?”

Wade Parker 22

Marsh: “Ah the guys, ah Granite, is making their way down the escape route from this morning.  It’s south, mid-slope, cut vertical.”


Voice 2: “Copy, working their way down into the structures.”

Voice 1:  “ … on the escape route with Granite Mountain right now?”

Marsh:  “Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna jump out at.”


It is likely that Marsh first led a team of sawyers down behind him to improve the route by using a vertical cut-and-slash technique to open up a downhill path.   A photo by Granite Mountain IHC crew member Christopher MacKenzie shows a team of sawyers mobilized and moving south at 3:52. The other crew members leave at approximately 4:04 p.m.


The final transmission, at 4:30 p.m., is an exchange apparently between Marsh and someone who is fully aware that the Hotshots are coming down off the ridge and that time is of the essence.

First Voice:  “Copy … coming down and appreciate if you could go a little faster but you’re the supervisor.”

Marsh: “Ah, they’re coming from the heel of the fire … ”


You’ll see now why they and Eric Marsh are more than heroes.  Eric is a Champion.  Those are some of my trucks in honor.  If you want to see a whole bunch of heroes, click on the memorial flag pole.

That’s an honor of the sacrifice and the overwhelming significance of a life for sure. . .

— Time Travel Time —

Rob caught up with the screaming rescue vehicle.  He could smell the rubber wearing off of the spinning tires ahead of him.  So early in the morning allowed for a quick ride at top speed.

“Jesus Christ!  Who’s tailing us so close?” the driver yelled to the back.

“That’s her husband!” one of the men through the wailing siren.

The ambulance pulled over.  Rob could see the men in the back working as the passenger side occupant opened his door and ran to the back and got in to help.  Back on the road is where the story gets foggy and filled with turmoil.

At the hospital, the doctors and nurses wore wings and were ready to perform a life-saving procedure to help my friend.

Both Pam and Rob survived.

“You are very rare,” the Doctor said to Pam as she lay on her back recovering from her ordeal.

“Why’s that? she muttered the question, her mouth was dry.

“You had what we call the, ‘Widow Maker’.  We usually just find the old man or woman sitting in a chair and dead.  Very few survive.  Very, very few.”

“Oh my God!”

“And young lady, you need to get a lottery ticket because the luck you just had is worth all the money in the world.  Probably more than that.”

She looked at him for more of his example.

“You happened to have your heart stop beating completely while parked in the gravel driveway of your home at four in the morning with not one, but five Central Arizona paramedics and firemen standing over you.  If I was to want to have a Widow Maker, I would want at least one of those men with me.  You had five.  That’s a miracle.  When you buy that ticket, would you buy me one too?” he laughed at his proposition and set the clipboard down on the foot of her bed,  “You’re going to be better than ever.”

Just shy of two weeks later after the terrifying moment of death, my friend who we call in an adoring way, ‘No Show’ went to Station 54 of the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority who protects Dewey, Arizona without question only to say thanks and drop off a basket of love to the men who saved her.

This is sacred ground and is protected by special beliefs.  Very special.  Very times ten.

“You’re 52!” said the hero who answered the door.

“What?” No Show asked.

“You’re 52, the one with the Widow Maker.  We call you 52.  That’s a good thing if you don’t know,  That’s really a good thing.  Thanks.”

“Yeah, I wanted to say thanks too for what the guys did for me and this guy,” she pointed at Rob, “I just wanted to bring something to them to tell them thanks.”

“Believe it or not, we just had a training on your experience this morning so we can have more of these successes.  We need more 52’s these days.  Glad you’re okay and I’ll tell the ‘B’ shift, who are who you came to see, that you stopped by.”


I personally left No Show alone because I knew about having such a terrifying moment as she had when the A-Fib Monster attacked me twice last year, knowing the last thing I needed was a phone call.  I knew people were praying for me.  I prayed for No Show.

— Time Travel Time —

I’m at the track.

No Show, shows up.

We talked for a long time about her ordeal of change.  I told her about my thoughts on God, the Soul, and religion.  She cried a couple of times as we re-lived the backlit clouds, the stars, the darkness, the compressions she could feel and mostly of her courage.  As we hugged, I could sense she was finally finding what I had found about life, its meaning and our treasured Blue Men.

“You know,” I said, “those people are Blue Men to you too.  They will forever be those of importance to you and only you.  They just don’t know it yet.  They are significant.  They are heroes,” I emphasized.

“No they’re not,” she said, swaying her head slowly as she looked down.  A tear dropped from her cheek and onto the floor.  I could hear it.

“I don’t get it?  They saved your life.”

“They’re much bigger than heroes.  So much bigger.  They fly everywhere, especially at my wonderful home’s elevation and all around Yarnell forever.”

I paused.  I knew she had more to say.

I nodded at her to tell me the rest of her thought as I smiled knowing she knew.  Another clear tear ran down from her eye.  She wiped at her cheek again.

“Because I saw where they live in the clouds.”

“You mean the clouds you thought you could see through the ceiling of the ambulance?”

“Yes, I saw it.”

“I know now what you mean.” I added.

She wiped the tear away with a napkin.

“So they’re not heroes?” I asked for her answer.  “You don’t see them as heroes?  So what are they then?”

A smile began to show as she raised her head and looked at me.

“They’re five angels in a big red truck.”

The End

“Zap!”  That’s an inside joke I’m not sharing but the Fire Fighting Toomey family will get it. . .

Hey, and Tyler. . . be careful.

“The best part of life starts at the top of the stretch.”                                                                    The WiseGuy

Click here to read more stories in The WiseGuy Diaries


2 thoughts on “In honor of the Yarnell 19 – How High Do Angels Fly”

  1. WINNER!
    Another great read from the Wiseguy. You made my day better then it already was.
    Your friend,

  2. Hey WiseGuy, you are incredible!!! This was a truly remarkable message you’ve shared….. So glad those special Angels were there with Pam and Rob💕. Thank you!

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