Lawmaker echoes Watertown fire chief’s call for transparency in Peyton Morse death

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 3:32 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A state assemblyman from western New York is paying attention to the latest developments in the story of fallen Watertown firefighter Peyton Morse.

This week we learned through Watertown Fire Chief Matt Timerman the results of Morse’s autopsy, and of the data retrieved from Morse’s air pack.

Timerman says both reports show him that he sent a healthy, 21-year-old recruit, with a working air pack to the state training facility in Montour Falls, where, on March 3, Morse suffered cardiac arrest and later died.

Timerman says what needs to become clearer is what happened to Morse during training, but he’s critical of the fact that, after 5 months since the incident, he has no facts.

It’s an issue being watched by state lawmakers from other communities, including an assemblyman in the Rochester area.

“We need to know what happened to Peyton Morse, not just for his family’s sake or the Watertown Fire Department’s sake, but in Monroe County, where I represent, almost all the fire districts here are now refusing to send their firefighters to the state fire academy...not just because of what happened to Peyton Morse, but because of a culture where they’ve had firefighters sustain injuries on the very same training exercise where firefighter Morse lost his life,” said Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R. - 134th District).

Jensen called on the Attorney General’s Office to do an investigation a few months ago, but that got shot down.

Now he’s wondering if the Inspector General’s Office needs to be the entity to look further into what happened.

“We need to provide information - one: because Peyton’s family deserves it, and two: because we need to make sure it never happens again. And when things are perceived to be pushed under a rug or covered up, that eliminates trust,” said Jensen.

Meanwhile, there are 3 separate investigations happening now. The office that runs the state fire academy says it’s cooperating with all of them.

Chief Timerman believes the office is stonewalling the progress. That office says that accusation is false.

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