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Friend Remembers Indy EMT Who Died in Car-Ambulance Crash
UPDATE, Feb. 17, 2013: Private Timothy McCormick’s colleague, 22-year-old specialist Cody Medley, has also died as a result of severe injuries sustained in the Feb. 16 car-ambulance accident downtown that claimed McCormick’s life. A tribute video celebrating their lives was posted to Facebook here.
Indianapolis emergency medical technician (EMT) Timothy McCormick leaves behind a legacy of selfless camaraderie, says one friend. He also leaves behind the legacy of an “It Gets Better” anti-harassment video that he uploaded to YouTube in December 2011. Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard has called for the flags at all City-County facilities to be lowered to half-staff to honor McCormick and Medley’s lives and service.
The two young men are believed to be the first emergency services workers to die on duty in the city's history. Mayor Ballard issued the following statement about McCormick's death: "This is a terrible loss for Indianapolis EMS and our city. Our thoughts and prayers are with our public safety community and with the families. When we are most in need, IEMS takes care of us. Now it is our time as a community to take care of them."
Ballard's Twitter feed noted that all flags are to fly at half-staff in the wake of these deaths. Via RTV6, a Public Safety Memorial for McCormick and Medley will be held on Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus. That memorial is open to the public.
Twenty-four-year-old McCormick died after suffering critical injuries in a car-ambulance crash at the intersection of St. Clair Street and Senate Avenue downtown today. The accident occurred around 3:30 a.m. McCormick's coworker, 22-year-old paramedic Cody Medley, the lone passenger in the ambulance he was driving, was also taken to Wishard Hospital in critical condition at the time. McCormick died at the hospital. Jade Hammer, the 21-year-old driver of the car that struck his ambulance was transported to Wishard as well, for a legal blood draw; toxicology results were termed "borderline" and "not a slam dunk" by one official, though Hammer did admit to consuming one and a half drinks of alcohol prior to the wreck. Police reports indicate that she ran a red light as McCormick and Medley's ambulance moved through the intersection under a flashing-yellow right-of-way signal. The ambulance rolled onto its side and into an unoccupied parked car. McCormick and Medley were both wearing seat belts.
Levi Blake, 20, was a close personal friend to McCormick for more than five years. McCormick "truly was my best friend," Blake says. When he found out about the accident, Blake says he "had a sick feeling it was him." He last spoke with his friend a few days prior to the wreck: "He called me after we had had a disagreement and said, 'I know we have our differences sometimes, but I still always love you.'"
The most important things to McCormick were his friends and family, Blake says, adding that McCormick was an advocate in the Indianapolis gay community. "One of his biggest dreams was to be able to see gay marriage legal in Indiana," Blake says. "Once you got to know Tim, you had a friend for life. We started out as friends, dated for quite some time, and decided that he is a better friend to anyone than he could be dating anyone. He always took life to new extremes. If something was bad, he'd find a way to make it better."
One way in which McCormick sought to make life better for others was by recording and posting a YouTube video on Dec. 11, 2011, as part of the national "It Gets Better" campaign, which sought "to inspire hope for young people facing harassment," per the campaign's website. "He saw what LGBT youth go through," Blake says, "and he had faced a lot of personal hardships in life. So he felt compelled to make such a video."
That YouTube clip appears below. In it, McCormick addresses viewers: "The things that are happening today are only typical of the hard times in which we live. ... Keep your head up, keep your spirits high, and keep working at whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish with your life. Because it will be worth it when all is said and done. If you don't have anything, keep searching; if you've lost what you used to have, keep trying. Life isn't a dress rehearsal. This is the real deal, and it's your time to shine—right now."
McCormick hailed originally from Staten Island, New York, and was passionate about his profession and his studies, Blake says: "He was one of the most dedicated people to his job that I could ever imagine. He was always picking up extra shifts, working nearly 80 hours a week sometimes, just so everyone else could have time off. He was extremely dedicated to his schooling at IUPUI, making the dean's list almost every semester. He never missed a class even after working nearly 20 hours on the road."
"And he loved being a medic," Blake says, "because he was always happy to be helping people. if he wasn't helping someone, he had to find a way to. He proved this to me. When I was in the hospital, he was the only one that would come and sit with me hour after hour, and be there in minutes if I needed anything."
Blake says that McCormick had designs on furthering his public-safety role in the future: "He wanted to continue his career after graduation to become a police officer in Indiana. He applied and went far in the hiring processes for many area agencies. [He] would never let obstacles get in his way, and he would always cheer you up no matter what the situation was. He was always the most fun person to be around."
Screenshot of Tim McCormick via YouTube; photos of McCormick courtesy Levi Blake, including photo of McCormick (center) and Blake (top) together with friends; screenshots of Medley via Facebook video.