MONTOUR FALLS, N.Y. (WETM) – The parents of the firefighter who died at the NYS Fire Academy in Montour Falls in 2021 are suing the state, saying it caused their son’s death because of “negligent acts”.
David Morse and Stacy-Snyder Morse filed a lawsuit in late January 2023, naming the State of New York as the defendant. According to the document, they claim that NYS caused the death of their 21-year-old son, Peyton Morse, at the State Fire Academy in March 2021 by failing to properly respond to his medical emergency.
Morse, a City of Watertown firefighter originally from LaFargeville, suffered a medical emergency and stopped breathing during a training exercise at the NYS Academy of Fire Sciences in Montour Falls. The lawsuit specified that when the breathing problems started, Morse was training to “crawl through a wooden box meant to represent a confined space.”
He was taken to Schuyler Hospital and later flown to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. where he died nine days later, with his wife and family beside him.
While the suit only names NYS as the defendant, it lists several academy instructors and state employees who were present at the time of Morse’s death, saying they were aware of his breathing complaints but “compelled” Morse to continue the exercise. The document then said the instructors failed to quickly help Morse and to provide him safe training and supervision.
While the suit didn’t list a set amount of money Morse’s parents are seeking, it said they have “suffered substantial pecuniary [financial] loss and other damages” because of the State’s “negligent, careless, and reckless acts” by the State.
In November 2022, the Schuyler County District Attorney announced that decided there was not enough evidence to bring charges in the case.
The New York State Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Fire Academy, said it’s unable to comment on the lawsuit because it’s pending litigation.