Hundreds Remember Fallen Chicago Firefighter

Hundreds of people turned out to say goodbye Wednesday to a fallen Chicago firefighter who died after the firetruck he was riding in, crashed with a school bus.

On Thursday, NBC 5 talked to William Grant's comrade who survived.

The sting of the loss is still very fresh for Jim Bigoness, who asked not to talk about the accident itself. He had plenty to say, though, about his dear friend and the huge response from the city.

Bigoness survived Friday's crash but still wears the scars of that horrible morning

"The hand's crushed," he said. "Fingers broke. I think there's 100 stitches, but this is nothing compared to the life lost."

Bigoness said Grant was gifted in building things -- like the fire station's admired meeting table, and said Grant visualized a way to break up two rooms in Bigoness' house.

The men were part of an honored firefighting team -- one that as recently as November was awarded for their work.

Two other men were also aboard Truck 51 Friday morning -- Jerry Cambria, who broke his leg in the accident, and terry McSwain.

Bigoness said the family of firefighters have a special bond, and that's helped them to be there for Grant's family.

He adds that Grant's brother and wife made him feel like their own as well: "He was crying. I was crying. Sharon (even) sent me a plant! I should be sending them a plant. The Grant family is the classiest family I ever met in my life."

Grant was honored in an emotional ceremony, and Bigoness said it's the way the fire department handled it that's keeping him from unraveling.

"If it wasn't for what they did, we would have been a mess," he said.

And it's what has given him the strength to return to a job he still loves.

"Sure I'm going to be scared (about going back to work), but that's life," Bigoness said. "I can't stop."

Bigoness will need six to eight weeks to recover from his injuries.

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