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Fallen firefighter’s parents still for fighting answers in son’s death

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 4:30 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Three months after Watertown firefighter Peyton Morse died following a training incident at the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls, his parents worry their son’s death will be forgotten and how he died will be kept secret.

Stacy and Dave Morse sat down with 7 News anchor Jeff Cole last week and talked about their battle.

“The fight is to find out what happened and get the answers, and we’ve tried and tried and we’re not getting any answers,” said Stacy.

The Morses say they don’t know who the instructors were when the incident happened or if they’re back on the job.

“They are supposed to be training people to do it right. Why didn’t they do it right,” said Dave.

Peyton Morse died after experiencing a medical emergency at the state fire academy on March 3. He was doing a mask confidence training evolution. When he couldn’t breathe, he called out for help.

“Something went wrong, and nobody is talking,” said Stacy.

Coming up empty on answers, the Morses are beyond belief.

“I would have never imagined that if someone dies, that you don’t have a right to find out why,” said Stacy. “It has been 3 months. I don’t think it takes that much time to ask someone who was in that room.”

Among the dozens of questions the Morses are asking: where was the medical help Peyton needed immediately after he collapsed?

“We’ve been told there was no ambulance and they had to transport him to a hospital in a private vehicle, which is against regulations,” said Dave.

“Nobody should worry about sending their loved one to first-responder state-sanctioned academy,” said Stacy.

But Peyton’s parents did worry. While attending the academy, Peyton would share stories with them about things he was seeing.

“His stories worried me. I never thought in this day and age that I would have to worry about my son at the fire academy. I expected it to be closely monitored and the necessary help and resources being there,” said Dave.

And Dave worried about the environment his son was training in.

“From what I am hearing, I consider it hazing and bullying,” he said.

And while the Morses grieve the loss of their son and continue fighting for answers, training continues at the state academy.

“I have a hard time imagining keeping a place functioning when you just had a death that wasn’t addressed, a suspicious death,” said Stacy.

With so many questions surrounding their son’s death, the Morses worry other recruits could be treated the same way

“We can’t have back what we want, so we will do what he would have, which is to help those around him. So, we will do everything in our power to get the truth. All we want is the answers, and we never expected 3 months later, to still have no answers....They took our son,” said Stacy.

When asked if he thinks the academy failed Peyton, Dave said, “Yes, they failed him and they are failing us.”

We reached out to the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which operates the fire academy, for comment.

DHSES issued the following comment: “This incident remains under investigation by the New York State Police and the Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau. The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control continues to cooperate with these investigations and has no further comment at this time.”

The state Department of Labor had this to say: “PESH opened an investigation within the required 24 hours after the incident. Because it is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”

We did not hear back from state police.

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