Family of injured firefighter offers reward for arrest

Published: Jul. 2, 2012 at 3:48 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:20 PM MST
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Sterling Lytle
Sterling Lytle

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now)

A Nogales firefighter was on life support after a hit and run accident left him seriously injured.
Family members said 25-year old Sterling Lytle suffered massive brain injuries after being run over by a car, and even if he survived, family members said he would not be able to function.
The accident took place in a parking lot near the intersection of Alvernon and Lee street, just before 3 AM on Thursday morning.
Friend say Lytle and a colleague were heading home from celebrations, after a Pima Community College firefighter/paramedic graduation ceremony.  Lytle was a passenger in the vehicle.
While they were driving down the Speedway and Alvernon area, friends say a car behind their vehicle was flashing its lights and honking at the vehicle Lytle was in. 
Friends say they are not surprised the two firefighters pulled into a parking lot.
"They may have thought maybe this is someone who needs help, that was in his nature," said family friend Kevin Chaffee.
Police are still investigating what happened next, but friends say Lytle got out of the car and exchanged some words with the driver who had been behind them.  What was said is unknown at this time.  Friends say the suspect then got in his car, ran over Lytle, and fled.
Tucson News Now spoke to Lytle's stepfather on Sunday night.  Casey Barcelo said, thank to private donations they were offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who could lead police to an arrest and prosecution in this case.
"It's a senseless act of violence which should not be tolerated in any society," said Barcelo.
Firefighters held a vigil in Tucson on Saturday night, while Lytle's family sat vigil at his bedside, facing the toughest decision a parent has to make.
After numerous tests showed Lytle was basically brain dead, the family had to decide whether to pull him off life support.  Barcelo said they had made the decision to go ahead and pull the plug on Monday morning.
"Obviously he's showing some signs of life but there's no value associated with that life.  There's no cognitive skills.  He'll never be the same.  Basically he's a vegetable in this point and time" said Barcelo.
Friends describe Lytle as a man who had a passion for his job, and his community.
Chaffee said Lytle was like a little brother to him.  He served as a volunteer firefighter, and did not care whether he got paid to do the job or not.  He wanted to save lives.
Chaffee said Lytle had always excelled in everything he did.  After graduating from the Paramedic and Firefighting program at PCC, he went on to become an instructor there.
He had been 8 months into his probationary period at the Nogales Fire Department at the time of this accident.
"In that short time he made a very strong impression on his colleagues.  He was just so excited to have that job," said Chaffee.
The man who wanted to save lives would be able to do so, even through this tragedy.  His family said they planned to donate Lytle's organs to help others.
"This is exactly what he would have wanted, for his organs to be donated," said Barcelo.
Chaffee added, "he joked around with me once, man if you ever need a kidney I'd give it to you.  Now he gets that chance."
Services are scheduled to take place one week from today, on a Monday.  We will get you those details as soon as arrangements are finalized.  Friends said Lytle would get a full firefighters funeral.  Departments from all over the country were already contacting them, hoping to send a truck to represent their department.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male driving a 2005 Orange Chevy Avalanche.
If you have any information, please call 88-CRIME or 911.
Friends also got word on Sunday that PCC plans to set up a $25,000 scholarship fund in Lytle's name, for students aspiring to be a firefighter/paramedic.
Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.