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Helmet and coat stolen from mourning display for Louie Gayton at Bethany fire station

A cherished tradition among firefighters is honoring a departed comrade by flying mourning flags on each side of the fire station and displaying a helmet and turnout coat on a folding chair, with a set of boots in front.

And so it was after the unexpected death Monday, April 14, of Bethany Town Supervisor Louis J. Gayton, whose dedicated service to his community was well known and respected. It included more than 50 years as a volunteer firefighter.

The loss of Louie, who was 75, is deeply felt, not only by family and friends, but also many residents in Bethany and the entire firefighting community.

Now there is a lot of outrage, too.

Outrage that someone stole the helmet and the turnout coat from Mr. Gayton's mourning display. (The chair and boots were left there.)

The theft was discovered at about 8 o'clock the next day, Tuesday, and subsequently reported to law enforcement by Bethany Assistant Chief Jeff Fluker. (The chief is out of town for two weeks.)

No suspects as of yet.

The dollar value is estimated to be $350. But you can't really put a price on a gesture of bereavement.

"I've never heard of these items being stolen before," said a dumbfounded Deputy Sheriff Gordon Dibble. "It's a respect thing. I liken it to tipping over gravestones."

Gary Spencer
Gary Spencer's picture
Joined: Feb 18 2009


Scott Ogle
Zbird's picture
Joined: Jun 27 2013

Beneath contempt.

Lisa Schwab
Missharley's picture
Joined: Aug 25 2011

WOW...... It takes a very sick person to sink that low and steal from a person that has passed away. I hope they re-think that action and bring it back to the station. They can make this right instead of trying to sell it for drug money. Do the right thing and return what you took as a gesture of good will and doing the right thing and turn your life around. You will feel so much better than whatever thrill caused you to take it.

DICKIE's picture
Joined: May 22 2009

Just when you think you've seen it all.......

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