CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Helping a hero is now the mission for the Charlotte Fire Department after learning one of their own was seriously injured thousands of miles away from home.
Retired Charlotte Fire Captain Tripp Fincher was away for a hunting trip in Kansas on Sept. 3 when the fire department says a tree stand broke, causing him to fall more than 20 feet.
“Unfortunately he did have a broken pelvis, broken sternum and ribs and a collapsed lung," Lester Oliva, organizer of Charlotte Salute to Heroes Foundation, said. "These injuries are pretty intensive so it’s important that we get our brother back home.”
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Fincher was airlifted to a trauma unit in Kansas, but will soon need another medical flight to make it back home to Charlotte to continue his recovery. Over the next two weeks, Charlotte Fire hopes to raise at least $75,000 to cover that flight and other medical costs.
“Very few times do we raise our hands and say hey we need some help, and this is our time when one of our own needs some help," Oliva said.
Fincher served with the Charlotte Fire Department for 20 years before retiring. His fellow firefighters said he made many major impacts during that time.
“He had the biggest heart on this fire department," Charlotte Firefighter Rob Griffin said. "There wasn’t anybody he wouldn’t help.”
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Friends and former co-workers say Fincher was best known for his leadership and willingness to give.
“We really took together like family," Griffin said. "We played hockey together through the firefighter hockey team. Doing different fundraisers for people. He really tried to install that for everyone who worked for him.”
The Charlotte Fire Department hosted a "Rally For Tripp" to help collect donations on Saturday, Sept. 10, at The Palmer Building, located at 2601 E. 7th St. in Charlotte.
Donations can also be made through the official GoFundMe. As of writing, more than $50,000 has been collected.