WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Fallen Watertown city firefighter Peyton Morse has returned home.
The 21 year old died Friday after experiencing a medical emergency while training at the State Academy of Fire Science on March 3.
Morse was training with a breathing apparatus, had problems, became unresponsive and was taken to a hospital by a state van, not an ambulance because there wasn’t one close by. An investigation is underway.
The procession to bring Firefighter Morse home started from the Pennsylvania hospital where he passed away.
State troopers led the hearse carrying Morse on Interstate 81. Other police agency and fire department vehicles followed.
Overpasses were decorated with American flags as north country firefighters stood and saluted Morse as the procession passed below.
As the procession came into the city of Watertown, there was a large American flag draped overhead on South Massey Street.
Watertown’s city firefighters saluted their fallen brother for the final time in front of Station 1.
“Just tears you apart when something like this happens,” said David Schofield.
Schofield is a retired city firefighter. He was with them for 31 years. He came out to show his support for Peyton Morse, a firefighter he never met.
“Young age, youth. The world falls apart,” he said.
As Morse’s procession made its way down Massey Street and passed the fire hall, firefighters stood outside in front of the trucks to honor Peyton.
“Between now and Friday, we want to make sure that a firefighter is with him at all times. And today, as he comes to Watertown, we just all want to be here to show our support,” said Andrew Denney, battalion chief.
But it wasn’t just firefighters. Matthew Grant is a Watertown resident. He arrived about an hour early with his three-year-old grandson, Evan, to pay their respects.
“The fire department is such a big part of our community and this is just such a heart-wrenching story. It’s such a tragedy. And my grandson and I just wanted to come out and show our respects and be here as part of the community,” said Grant.
Morse joined the Watertown Fire Department last month, and was only with the station for a few weeks before going away for training. But Denney says his passion was obvious.
“The amount of time that we knew him, we could tell that he’s a great person. We were excited to have him here,” he said.
The escort went by the fire station quickly, but Schofield says seeing the outpouring of support was touching.
“Warm, very warm. Honoring. Respectful. Honest. Love,” he said.
Denney says a procession like this is normal for a fallen firefighter.
“Really every firefighter, you know, we’re all brothers, brothers and sisters, and that’s the way it is. When an event like this happens, we all come together and show that we support each other,” he said.
Morse was also a volunteer for the LaFargeville Fire Department and was its assistant chief.
In the past, he was a volunteer firefighter for a department in the Albany area.
Calling hours for Morse will be held Thursday, March 18 from 2 to 6 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Clayton.
Morse’s funeral mass will be celebrated at the church Friday at 11 a.m.