Creators of a video project to memorialize Prince George’s County firefighters who died in the line of duty had struggled to get their hands on one particular photo until a social media post Monday night brought an end to their search.
John Leyh was a member of the Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department who lost his life helping citizens of the county more than six decades ago.
On July 12, 1956, Leyh responded to a car crash in his own car. While driving home, he himself crashed into a tree. He was 27 years old.
The fatal collision resulted in a major change in safety procedures, Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department Chief Danny McCoy said.
"As a result of his line-of-duty death we actually stopped our members from having the ability to respond to the scene in their personal vehicles. While it doesn't seem like a big deal... back in the day, that's how everything was handled," McCoy said.
Leyh’s image eluded the video project creators for a year, until they shared their search on social media Monday, the anniversary of his death.
Within hours, the Prince George’s County Fire Department’s Director of Public Information Jennifer Donelan checked her phone and found a series of tweets by someone with the twitter name @greenbeltgirl.
"It's, hey, here's his draft card. Hey, we found his yearbook. Hey, here's his yearbook class," Donelan said. "Hey, here's John Leyh."
Finally, there it was. The face of John Leyh.
The Twitter user declined to be interviewed, but credited the find to basic internet research. To the fire department, her efforts helped bring a fallen hero home.
"Having a picture, a face to put with the actual person, helps us continue to remember the sacrifice that he made," McCoy said.
The video project aims to memorialize line of duty deaths of firefighters dating back to 1930.
Its creators are looking for images of four other fallen firefighters. If you’d like to view their work, and maybe even help find a missing hero, check out the social media hashtag #PGFDRemembers.