Pink fire truck tribute for chief killed on duty

Pink Heals Tour, Chief Ed Switalski
Chief Ed Switalski's name is signed on the Pink Heals Tour truck. (Aug. 29, 2017)

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The name of the Comstock Township fire chief killed while on duty last month now graces a pink fire truck.

Pink Heals Inc.’s iconic fire trucks stopped outside Fire House Subs on S. Drake Road in Oshtemo Township Tuesday evening. There, the family of fire chief Ed Switalski greeted volunteers and added his name to one of the engines.

Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Switalski
An undated courtesy photo of Comstock Township Department of Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Switalski.

“I’m very grateful that they came out and thought of us, Kalamazoo and not just myself, but other people going through tough times in the area,” Holly Switalski, the chief’s widow, said.

In attendance at the event was Tiana Carruthers, one of two survivors of the February 2016 Kalamazoo-area shooting spree. She was the first person to be shot that night. Switalski was called to the scene and gave her aid.

Holly Switalski said the call had already affected her husband before he knew about the two other shootings that left six people dead and severely wounded a teen girl.

Pink Heals Tour, Chief Ed Switalski, Tiana Carruthers
Kalamazoo shooting rampage survivor Tiana Carruthers, left, stands with Holly Switalski at the Pink Heals Tour stop in honor of Chief Ed Switalski on Aug. 29, 2017.

Switalski was hit and killed by a vehicle while leaving a call on I-94 the night of June 14. The sheriff’s office said the driver, 24-year-old Brandon Clevenger of Battle Creek, was driving nearly 90 mph and distracted by his phone moments before the crash. Clevenger now faces a charge of reckless driving causing death.

The Pink Heals organization also plans to visit Bronson Children’s Hospital during its two-day stop in Kalamazoo County. The group previously visited a Battle Creek mother diagnosed with pancreatic cancer whose son has cerebral palsy, according to a Sunday Facebook post.

Each fire engine is covered in signatures and messages of support for people facing life-threatening illnesses or adversity. More than 1,000 people nationwide volunteer for Pink Heals, many of whom are firefighters and public servants, according to the group.