One in a million. Those were the words two colleagues used in describing 25-year Sugar Creek firefighter John Lityma, a 61-year-old lifelong Independence resident who died Sept. 13.

One in a million.

Those were the words two colleagues used in describing 25-year Sugar Creek firefighter John Lityma, a 61-year-old lifelong Independence resident who died Sept. 13. According to Sugar Creek Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Pat Casey, Lityma was off-duty, performing electrical work in an attic on Sept. 11 when he was electrocuted and went into cardiac arrest. The Independence Fire Department responded to the call, Casey said, and Lityma was without oxygen for about 15 minutes.

He remained on life support until the afternoon of Sept. 13, Casey said, and he died shortly after.  

After knowing Lityma for more than 25 years, Casey called him “a very good worker who knew his job well.”

“He was probably one of the best EMTs I’d known out there,” said Casey, crediting Lityma with saving four lives through CPR and assisting in the delivery of two babies. “He had also done a lot with the elderly in the community around here in his time off.”

For example, Casey said, Lityma once responded to a medical call of a woman who lived without an air conditioner. During his time off, Lityma found an air conditioner for the woman’s house and installed it for her, according to Casey.

“He had quite a few instances like that,” Casey said.

Sugar Creek Ward 2 Alderman Dennis Onka also had known Lityma for more than 25 years and said sometimes the two went on scene to fires together. Onka remembered an instance when Lityma helped carry Onka out of his house because Onka had a pinched nerve in his back.

“He was always there. John has been an integral part of our city,” Onka said. “I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people’s lives John had touched. He was just an all-around guy who could handle anything as far as the fire department goes.”

Lityma’s survivors include his wife of 42 years, Pamela, a daughter, Dawn Lityma; a granddaughter, Vanessa Mason; and a grandson, Devin Damper, all of Independence. Other family members include one sister, Jean Edwards, and two brothers, Mike Lityma and James Lityma.

An Eagle Scout, Lityma also served as a committee member/warrior for the tribe of Mic-O-Say for Scout Troop 492.

According to Onka, Lityma performed construction and handyman work on the side and had built the privacy fence around Onka’s yard.  

“You name it, John could do any part of that construction business,” Onka said. “John was one of those guys who said what he wanted to say, whether it upset somebody or not. He was about as honest and forthcoming as they come. If you asked a question, you had better be ready for an answer, whether you liked it or not.”   

Casey said Lityma would want to be remembered as a dedicated man “not only to his family but to his firefighters. He was a good friend to everybody. He would help everybody out there.

“He’s gone, but he won’t be forgotten – I can tell you that.”