BOLIVAR, Mo — Roy Campbell was on call at Fire Station 25 in Kansas City on Friday July 17, 1981.
Dispatch came over the radio at 7:05pm.
“They said this is the Hyatt Regency. The skywalks have fallen.”
“And I remember running to the back of the truck, and I couldn’t think of what the skywalks were.”
Leeroy, as his crew called him, responded to what would soon be known as the deadliest structural collapse in US History. 114 people lost their lives, over 200 were injured.Roy Campbell worked through the night, and still couldn’t sleep. He remembers the night vividly. “I didn’t want to go to sleep, and I needed to talk to somebody. I ended up crying.”
“My wife was good enough to come meet me at the station and hold me.”
A lot has changed within the past 37 years, but he can still be seen standing next to a fire truck.
He now acts alongside his son, Rod, as chaplains for the Bolivar City Fire Department.
“I saw what the Hyatt Regency did to my father,” explained Rod, who saw his father work in the fire service for 20 years. He pastors Bolivar Family Church.
“(Working in the fire service) weighs on you,” explained BCFD Deputy Chief Brent Watkins.
The crew refers to recent events in Bolivar as the ‘4-in-4’: 4 fatal fires in 4 straight months over winter.
Experiencing tragic events in the fire service isn’t a choice, but talking about them, certainly is.
“We always talk about training physically as firefighters, but there has to be mental, emotional and spiritual training as well. Those are things we never talk about.”
“Having chaplains designated to take care of those types of trainings is huge. We need those types of trainings as well so that we can truly respond.”