Firefighter/Paramedic Richard Longoria was the man the Corpus Christie Fire Department often turned to when a rookie joined the crew.
On Friday, those former rookies along with hundreds of fire and rescue personnel will pay a final tribute to Longoria, who collapsed and died Tuesday on his way home after his shift.
A passing motorist called 9-1-1 after finding Longoria lying on the street about seven miles from the fire station. His colleagues, some of whom he had help train, responded. However, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy showed he suffered a stroke. During an earlier fire shift, he had told co-workers that he didn't feel well, said Assistant Chief Andy Cardiel.
Longoria, one of the department's most senior medics, was remembered for his dedication and committment. "He never backed down from a job...We're cross-trained here, and he was a Firefighter II. He had the opportunity to get off the medic unit, he chose to stay. So, he was on it whenever he could..."
Cardiel called his friend a role model. "He was happy to take young medics under his wing to show them the ropes...This is a tremendous loss..."
Longoria had recently become a grandfather for the first time, and was very proud of his granddaughter. "He had talked about retiring soon, too," Cardiel said, adding that his co-worker had been with the department for about 30 years.
When he wasn't at the fire station or with his family, Longoria could be found working on the USS Lexington, a decomissioned aircraft carrier docked in Corpus Christie. "He just loved that ship. He spent years and years working on it."
The flags at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg were lowered to half staff today in Longoria's honor. He is the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in 2006.
Visitation will be held Thursday afternoon at Seaside Funeral Home in Corpus Christie. The Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick's Church.
Related:Corpus Cristi Fire Department