'I just want to hug everybody.' Patrick Schultz on his homecoming

Published on Friday, July 25, 2014

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'I just want to hug everybody.' Patrick Schultz on his homecoming

John Clayton

Enlarge photo

John Clayton

Enlarge photo

John Clayton



Amidst cheers from friends and no shortage of tears, Patrick Schultz came home to the Pelham-Batesville Fire Department Friday afternoon.

Schultz, a career firefighter at Pelham-Batesville and volunteer with the Cowpens Fire Department, had been released from the Augusta Burn Center only hours before traveling to the Upstate. In May, Schultz survived a plane crash near Panama City, Fla., that claimed the lives of his mother, Kathleen Schultz, his aunt, Nancy Moore and his nephew, Nicholas Hoang.

"I told him the other day that he was a walking miracle," said Pelham-Batesville Fire Chief Phill Jolley, who was among the organizers of a large welcome at the department.

The welcome home quickly overwhelmed Schultz, who was overcome with emotion soon after greeting several of his fellow firefighters.

"I just want to hug everybody," Schultz said before going to one knee and breaking into tears.

The fire department and a visit with his peers, friends and “brothers” at the station was his first stop on his way home.

“Coming home to all this is a blessing – a true blessing,” Schultz said. “It shows you how much strength the brotherhood in the fire department has.”

Schultz, who has been treated for second- and third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body, was heading home to visit with his two daughters soon after leaving the fire station.

Since the crash, firefighters from across the Upstate and in Augusta have enlisted to help the Schultz family. A fund through First Citizens Bank has also been established.

To everyone in the community, I can't say thank you enough," Schultz said. "There's no way I can go around and give everybody a hug that's put in financial support, that's put in time out of their day to volunteer at fundraisers or to take the time to say a prayer . . . I appreciate it.

“I'll never be able to give them a hug or send them a card to say thank you, but there's a lot of people around the Upstate who have blessed me beyond belief, and I just want to say thank you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it."

Schultz has been with the Pelham-Batesville Fire Department for one year and has been a volunteer at Cowpens for 10 years.

Jolley said Schultz still has more treatment and physical therapy to go through before he will be able to return to the department, but Schutlz's turnout gear has been sitting at his locker untouched since the May 26 crash – and it will remain there until Schultz is able to return.

"I want (to come back to work) as soon as I possibly can," Schultz said. "I've got a little more therapy to do, but I'm getting around pretty good. As soon as they'll let me come back, I'm coming back. This is where I want to be. I'm a worker, and I love to dig down and help out my brothers in any way I can help them out. 

"I want to be here, battling side-by-side with them. That's where I want to be.”





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