Crash survivors reunites with rescuers thanks to NFFF connections


For 29 years, Lisa Beavers Hegewisch hoped that someday she could meet and thank the firefighters and paramedics who saved her from a horrific car crash when she was in high school. She never thought that teaching a yoga class would be the gateway to making the connections for such a reunion.
While planning for the 2015 National Fallen Firefighters Survivors Conference, Jenny Woodall, who coordinates many of the conference events, was looking for a yoga instructor from the Annapolis area. She explained that at the annual conferences, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) likes to offer yoga classes as an activity that encourages peacefulness and healing.

“Lisa’s bio seemed like a good fit for our group—a gentle approach, comfortable working with all ages and ability levels,” Woodall said. “I contacted her, and she enthusiastically agreed to present two yoga workshops for us.”

After the workshops, Woodall stopped in to help roll-up yoga mats. As they chatted about the classes and successful participation, Hegewisch said, “I never really thought about it in terms of my own past experiences until now.”

She went on to describe the tragic accident in Prince George’s County (MD) that killed two of her friends and left her severely injured as they were driving home from high school. Hegewisch revealed she still hoped she could meet and thank everyone who worked to save her life that day.

Woodall knew she could help. She introduced Hegewisch to the NFFF’s Executive Director, Chief Ron Siarnicki, who had served with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department for more than 24 years, rising through the ranks to Chief of the Department.

“I made a few calls to Chief Marc Bashoor and others within the Prince George’s County fire department. Within a few weeks, the connections were made. We found some of the firefighters who were there and wanted to meet Lisa,” explained Siarnicki.

On Tuesday, August 17, Lisa was reunited with four of the firefighters and paramedics who saved her. Amid smiles and some tears, she met and embraced each one as he explained his role in the rescue.

  • Rich Anderson – Retired PGFD Lt. He was a rookie firefighter. He was leaving his shift and witnessed the crash. He was the first on scene and called for help.
  • Joe Liguori – Retired Medic. He treated Lisa, stabilizing her while others worked to extricate her. He then transported her to the local trauma center. When Lisa was transported to another hospital for rehab, Liguori’s wife was her nurse.
  • Melvin Batts – PGFD Firefighter. He operated on the scene, cutting Lisa from the seatbelt and extricating her from the wreckage. Batts had retired then returned to the department a few years ago because, as he said, he loves the job and helping people.
  • Chuck Fusco – Former Volunteer Chief of Berwyn Heights VFD. He arrived after the incident occurred. However, his observations and that of his crew that day prompted him to enhance equipment on a new squad that Berwyn Heights ordered a month after incident occurred.

“I am grateful for how this unfolded,” Hegewisch told an audience of firefighters, family and friends. “I’m grateful for being able to teach at the conference and give something positive to the survivors. And I’m grateful because I feel I have received so much from so many.
I’m just so happy to be here.”