Family, friends of teenage drowning victim advocate for 911 reform 1 year later

Pastor Michelle Thomas grieving for her 16-year old son, Fitz, on the anniversary of his death.
Pastor Michelle Thomas grieving for her 16-year old son, Fitz, on the anniversary of his death.

A scene including some of Fitz Thomas’ classmates from the June 3 vigil held in his memory.

Friends form a prayer circle on Friday morning before hiking the last mile Fitz Thomas walked before he died on June 4, 2020.
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Pastor Michelle Thomas grieving for her 16-year old son, Fitz, on the anniversary of his death.

Family and friends remembered a Virginia teenager this weekend who drowned a year ago after a series of transferred 911 calls delayed rescue crews finding him.

Music and prayer led a celebration on Sunday at Riverside High School to remember 16-year-old Fitz Thomas of Loudoun County.

His mother, Pastor Michelle Thomas, said it was about keeping his memory alive and advocating for change.

“There’s a part of negligence and a part of ineptness and lack of training and care that really played a part in Fitz being denied access to on time emergency services,” Thomas said.

Fitz would have graduated in a couple of weeks.

Three days of events over the weekend included a block party, a memorial walk, a headstone dedication and a celebration service honored his life.

“It was just a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful time,” Thomas said.

She said she wants to see more transparency in the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue policy changes.

“It’s just unfortunate. We could do better, we deserve better,” Thomas said. “I hope that his life is the catalyst for policy change. It is not enough to hope for policy change, we have to get it.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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