A little over four years ago, Daniel Lyon, whose parents Dan and Barbara Lyon live in Stevensville, and three of his fellow firefighters were helping battle the Twisp Fire in northern Washington state when there was a vehicle mishap that left the crew stranded as the fire raged through the area. His three companions, Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac and Richard
Wheeler, were killed in the fire, but Lyon managed miraculously to survive. He was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center with third degree burns over 70% of his body.
It has been a long slow recovery involving over a dozen surgeries and years of therapy. Lyon had been wanting to do something to commemorate his fallen firefighting partners. Then, about six months ago, when his doctors finally told him that he was done with all his major surgeries, he decided to do something he had long been wanting to do and thought he would never be able to do again after being burned – climb a mountain. So he decided to climb Mount Rainier to celebrate his fallen friends and his own recovery at the same time. He set a date to climb on August 19, the fourth anniversary of the tragic event that took his friends’ lives.
He prepared everything and was going to carry a banner for the Wildland Firefighters Fund to the top of the mountain. When climbing day approached, however, the weather had turned bad and the climbing company he was working with backed out of the deal. Undeterred by their concerns or the change in weather, Lyon found an REI climbing crew that was going up that had an opening and he was able to reach the summit a couple of days later.
“I was able to make it happen and it was the most miserable and most enjoyable experience I ever had at once,” he said. “I was really glad I got to do it.” He said the storm was so bad at the peak that he could only stay for about 10 minutes and could see nothing.
But just to be able to do it, he said, “I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. Things still aren’t perfect, I don’t think anyone can say they are, but I’m happy. Internally I’m doing good, my heart’s doing good, my mind’s working great and I’m in a really good place in my life.”
Dan (senior) said that he was very proud of his son. He said his son had shown incredible strength and endurance throughout his recovery.