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A Dallas Firefighter Is Remembered For His Bravery

A veteran Dallas firefighter who was killed on an icy highway overpass last week was buried on Monday. The funeral for William Scott Tanksley attracted hundreds of people from Terrell to Dallas. 

Moms like Reagan Melton brought their children out to salute the men and women riding on motorcycles and firetrucks, escorting the body of the father of three to his final resting place.

“It’s a small thank you to someone who did so much,” she says.

Melton and her daughter Cambre counted at least 60 firetrucks. She says her daughter told her: "it was awful."

“She knew, at four!”

Billy Gaston, Richardson Fire Department’s battalion chief, stood along Greenville Avenue saluting the procession, too.

“It hurts my heart that we’re having to do this,” he says. “I feel for the family and his friends. He was doing his job when he lost his life.”

Everett Holbrooke didn’t want to miss the opportunity to wave at all the firefighters, some who traveled from around the country.

“They fight for us every day, the least I can do is be here to honor these people,” Holbrooke says.

At Restland Cemetery’s Garden of Honor, hundreds more encircled the Tanksley family, including Tony Aguilar, who worked with the fallen firefighter.  

“If you rode along the route,” he says. “People took time out of their day, to show that, you know, they really cared about Scott, so it meant a lot to all of us.”

Aguilar remembers Tanksley as a quiet guy, who was dedicated to doing his job right at Dallas Fire Station 12. 

“Ya know," he says. "I go back, and I’ve talked to friends of mine who ask us why we do we shut down so many lanes of traffic when we go to a wreck, well this is exactly the reason why, it’s dangerous out there.”

One of the lessons from this , Aguilar says, is that motorists need to be more cautious.  

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. Concentrate on the road, concentrate on what’s in front of you, and respect what we’re doing, because you know, it’s life and death.”    

Tanksley is survived by his wife and three children. 

Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.