By GABRIELA VIDAL
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — Josh Arras has spent the 24 hours remembering the smiles, laughs and dance-offs he witnessed being lifelong friends with firefighter Ben Polson.
“I wish there was more time with Ben, but unfortunately there isn’t,” said Arras. “I’m just really glad of the time that I had with him and all the memories that we were able to create together.”
Arras says he has known Polson since they were about 7 or 8-years-old.
“We went to grade school together at St. Raphael in South city,” said Arras. “Ben especially growing up was really close to my family.”
By now, people on social media have likely seen a video of Polson dancing in front of a circle of his fellow St. Louis City firefighters. Arras says that was pretty typical for Polson to do at almost any function involving music.
“He was in my wedding and definitely got in a dance off with a couple of people at the wedding,” said Arras “Any time you’d see him, he’d just always had a smile on his face. He was an extremely positive person, regardless of what he had going on in his life.”
He says Polson was also the kind of friend you could always count on to be there, like the time Polson drove 15 hours just to make it to Arras’ wedding.
“He’s one of those friends where you can literally go a year, a year and a half without seeing each other and once you get back together, it’s like no time passed at all,” said Arras. “I’ve always been really close to his parents. I’m just devastated for them. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
The devastating news that Polson died in the midst of fighting a fire at a North City home that eventually collapsed is also being felt by friends and loved ones in other parts of the country.
“I instantly started crying. I just couldn’t believe that somebody so good could be gone so quickly,” said Patience Levesque.
Levesque and Polson became friends working together at the same restaurant in Colorado. She says moved there sometime in 2016 to work as a ski instructor. Though his friends laugh because Polson did not knowing how to ski whatsoever.
“He was teaching in Beaver Creek and I was teacher over in Vail and he would come to work talking about how he was impromptu doing ski lessons. I think it was working though,“ said Levesque. “He was just very spontaneous and always a great time, and very genuine person.”
His friends say they were not surprised when Polson returned back to St. Louis and joined the fire academy.
“That’s honorable and brave,” said Levesque. “Being a firefighter is a passion and it’s a calling, and he is all of those qualities that make frontline workers.”
“I know his dad was so proud of him that he became a fireman. His dad was obviously a retired fireman himself, so I know that he was extremely proud of Ben,” said Arras. “And I was too.”
Polson’s memory now lives forever in the hearts of those he touched and the lives he served to protect.
“Obviously it’s extremely sad, but all you can really do is celebrate his life,” said Arras.
Polson’s friends say funeral plans are still being finalized, but they do know his visitation is on Wednesday and the funeral will be on Thursday at the cathedral in the Central West End.
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