Schenectady arson survivor Safyre shares hug with Def Leppard’s Rick Allen

Safyre, still recovering, will begin middle school in the fall
Safyre Terry embraces Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen during a visit last month in Albany
Safyre Terry embraces Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen during a visit last month in Albany

SCHENECTADY — Around the time she lost her foot because of injuries she suffered in a fire, Safyre Terry’s aunt Liz Dolder told her the story of Rick Allen, drummer for the band Def Leppard.

Allen lost an arm in a 1984 car accident but rejoined the band and continued his work. As she prepared Safyre for her surgery, Dolder remembered Allen.

“I showed her some videos of him before and after, and she just fell in love with the thought that he was playing the drums with his feet and one hand,” Dolder told The Daily Gazette via Facebook on Monday. 

“It’s like deer in headlights when it comes to him ever since,” Dolder added.

Last month, during the band’s visit to Albany to play the Times-Union Center, Safyre got to meet Allen for a second time. 

Dolder shared photos of the meeting and ensuing hug Sunday on Safyre’s Facebook page, Safyre Schenectady’s Super Survivor. It was the second meeting between the two after a 2016 meet before a concert at Darien Lake.

“They love her right back,” Dolder said. “She was so shy this time that she went to walk away and Rick called her back for that hug in the picture.”

Safyre lost her father and three siblings in the still-unsolved May 2, 2013, arson fire at 438 Hulett St. Safyre, 5 at the time, survived, but with severe burns. She has slowly recovered with the help of Dolder and others.

Her story came to the attention of the country and the world in December 2015 when a Christmas card request prompted people from around the world to respond. An estimated 1.5 million pieces of mail poured in through what became a worldwide project of love.

Well-wishers, included fire survivors and even celebrities, sent cards and gifts. 

Now 10, Safyre has continued the Christmas card tradition in the years since. Her aunt will periodically share updates on their Facebook page. 

Dolder posted a brief video earlier this month of Safyre’s elementary school graduation ceremony. Safyre, with her blue-and-pink hair, walked across the gym to loud applause. 

“My girl moving on up. Breathtakingly priceless. Feeling BLESSED,” Dolder wrote.

She starts middle school in the fall, Dolder said.

“She’s just the happiest little girl you could ever meet,” Dolder said. “Always so sweet and always thinking about others, too.”

She’s also very rarely shy, Dolder said. 

Actually, Dolder said there’s really only one time when Safyre has done that.

“Safyre is so outgoing, social and a Chatty Cathy,” Dolder said, “but she gets shy and timid when it comes to Rick.”

No one has been charged with setting the fire that injured Safyre and claimed four members of her family, though several people have gone to prison for perjury related to the case.

Safyre’s father, David Terry, 32, along with her sister Layah, 3, and brothers Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months, all died in the blaze.

Anyone with information about the fire can contact the ATF at (646) 335-9070 or by email at [email protected] Tips also can be sent to Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers at (866) 730-8477, or via the group’s Facebook page.

More on Safyre Terry’s story:

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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