Northwest NEWS

March 4, 2002

Local News

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Bothell suffers loss of career firefighter

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   The City of Bothell Fire and EMS lost one of its own last week. The untimely loss of a friend and colleague is always a shock.
   Gone is Lt. Gary D. McAdam, 40, husband and father of three, a 15-year veteran of the Bothell Fire Department, working out of the Queensborough Firehouse. After sustaining critical injuries in an off-duty altercation that occurred around 9 p.m. Feb. 26 in front of the U & I Tavern in the city of Snohomish, McAdam, in a coma, was airlifted to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.
   He died at 4 p.m. the following day, never having regained consciousness.
   "We will continue to seek facts that will shed light on the full and complete picture of what really happened," said Chief Rob Sofie of the Snohomish Police Department.
   Longtime friend and co-worker Lt. Jim Roepke said, "When you work together for 24 hours a day, when you're around people long periods of time, a brotherhood does exist. You do live as a family, a community. Whether you're relaxing, working out, eating or answering a call at 3 o'clock in the morning, everybody brings his personal side to the job."
   And what McAdam brought to the job was a good spirit, a light heart, said Roepke.
   "People enjoyed being around him and he enjoyed people," he said. "He was a very happy guy."
   McAdam was a former firefighters union board member and former vice-president of the union. He did volunteer fundraising for the Northwest Burn Foundation. On his off-duty time, he instructed CPR and first aid classes.
   "He always loved baseball and was the pitcher on the (department's) softball team," said Roepke.
   To illustrate the kind of guy he was, Roepke told the story of the time a Bothell family had a medical incident at their home. It seems there was a problem with the driveway that made getting to the house difficult.
   "Gary worked with the family to make the driveway accessible. He helped on his own time. He did things like that. What he did didn't get him an award or tremendous praise, but what he did was really important," said Roepke.
   In October, McAdam went to New York City with other firefighters from the department to grieve the deaths of firefighters killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
   "He was tremendously moved," said Roepke, "like all of us, and felt humbled at the job (these men and women had done)."
   "We will greatly miss Lt. McAdam's enthusiasm, smile and especially his passion for life," said Chief Marcus Kragness, City of Bothell Fire and EMS. "Lt. McAdam effortlessly contributed his talents in so many ways, both on- and off-duty in the Bothell community; and for that, he will always be remembered."
   "The McAdam family," said Battalion Chief Dan Johnson, speaking on behalf of the family, "wants to thank the community, local fire departments and their friends and family for the overwhelming support they've received.
   "The Gary McAdam Benefit Fund (was) established ... by the Bothell Professional Firefighters Association Local 2099 (and) has already received several contributions. Donations can be made at any Washington Mutual Bank branch."
   City of Bothell flags are at half-mast in honor of McAdam's dedicated service to the community. A memorial service is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, at Cedar Park Assembly of God, 16300 112th Ave. NE in Bothell.