Firefighter, hurt when SUV fell on him, succumbs to injuries

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / August 1, 2011

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Salisbury Fire Lieutenant Tim Oliveria, a 27-year veteran firefighter, died yesterday afternoon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston of injuries suffered Friday when a vehicle on which he was doing maintenance fell on him. He was 53.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Salisbury Fire Lieutenant Tim Oliveria,’’ said Deputy Fire Chief Steven LeSage. “Tim was a much beloved, 27-year member of the Salisbury Fire Department.’’

Oliveria was the departmental mechanic for the small town on the New Hampshire border. He was performing a routine oil change on a Fire Department sport utility vehicle that was raised on jacks when the vehicle fell on his chest, causing massive internal injuries. His heart had stopped by the time fellow firefighters got to him, but they were able to resuscitate him before he arrived at a local hospital.

His family, colleagues, and officials kept a vigil at the hospital, hoping for positive news. But his injuries were just too severe.

“Our hearts are broken losing our brother Timmy,’’ said Edward Kelly, president of the state fire union. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and two daughters as they struggle with the loss of such a great man.’’

Local officials and family did not comment beyond LeSage’s prepared statement yesterday, asking for privacy.

The accident rocked the department of about 20 members. The on-duty crew was taken out of work Friday night, as stress debriefing teams worked with them.

State Police are investigating the accident.

Oliveria was remembered for his trademark fireman’s mustache, his honesty, and a direct nature that made him trustworthy both at work and away from the job, LeSage recalled.

Oliveria leaves two adult daughters and his wife, Pamela, who is the sister of Salisbury Fire Chief Richard Souliotis.

“Lieutenant Oliveria died carrying out his duties of the day,’’ State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in an interview yesterday. “This is a tragic accident, and our hearts and prayers go out to his family.’’

Oliveria is considered to have died in the line of duty because he was fatally injured on the job Friday.

A departmental funeral with full honors is being planned. Firefighters from around the region are expected to attend.

Boston Fire Lieutenant Michael Walsh plans nearly every firefighter funeral in the state, Kelly said.

He has planned more than 100 firefighter funerals over the past 30 years, in his capacity as special operations coordinator for the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, and his team is meeting this week with officials in Salisbury.

“When this happens, there’s a brotherhood that comes together,’’ Walsh said. “We have a team of people who go up there to help the brothers in Salisbury during their time of need and give them a chance to grieve, and then let them attend the funeral and not worry about the logistics.’’

John Guilfoil can be reached at