Firefighter Richard Shirven told a jury that he grabbed the hand of John Longworth but was unable to rescue him from the blaze, and Longworth perished. The firefighter was testifying at the South Bend, Indiana trial of Mark Ray Leonard, accused of starting fire to a house in an insurance fraud scheme that resulted in Longworth’s death, according to WTHR.
Shirven said, “I could reach in. I grasped his hand and tried to pull him out, I was prying what I could. I was pulling out what I could, but, like I said, there were two floors of wood on top of him.”
As reported by RTV6 The Indy Channel, Shirven was one of the first responders who arrived at the scene of the Richmond Hill explosion in November 2012. Shirven said, “We heard Mr. Longworth calling before we saw him. He was trapped in the residence. The first floor, the second floor, the roof … they'd all collapsed on top of him. I could see him through this little hole of wood and debris. It was probably 4 or 5 inches by 1 foot. At this time the fire was very hot. It was a fast-moving fire.”
Shirven also stated that Longworth was able to move around in the area of his basement where he was trapped. Lieutenant Dean Teagarden, Shirven's ranking officer, added, “He could move in what I've described as like a box, He could move from side to side, but couldn't escape. We worked frantically to try to get him free.” Teagarden said that the residence was already covered in fire when firefighters arrived on the scene. He also added, “It was extreme heat. I thought about removing my mask to see if I could get in further to help the guy. I just barely removed my mask, and the heat was so intense it came back down immediately.”
Teagarden decided to get his men out of the blaze. “It continued to get worse. The fire continued to spread. Within several minutes it was encompassing both firefighters and the trapped man,” said the Lieutenant. After the firefighters had retreated from the intense fire, they knew that Longworth could not be saved.