NJ Firefighter Dies from Complications of Coronavirus

March 31, 2020
Passaic firefighter Israel Tolentino, who died March 31, had been with the department since 2018, and he was the father of a 9-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

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A 33-year-old Passaic firefighter died from coronavirus complications on Tuesday morning, officials said.

Israel Tolentino died from complications after contracting COVID-19, Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said in a Facebook Live, flanked by Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost. Tolentino, who joined the Passaic Fire Department in December 2018, leaves behind a wife and two children, ages 7 and 9, Lora said.

Battling tears, Trentacost said that Tolentino’s death was considered a line of duty death, as he remembered the young firefighter who fulfilled his dream of joining the fire department little more than a year ago.

“Israel was a great father, person, husband, son,” said Trentacost.

When he wasn’t fighting fires for Passaic, Tolentino served as an EMT, said Trentacost. In 2017, Tolentino, along with family and friends, set up a coat drive for his city, said Lora.

During the afternoon press briefing, Governor Phil Murphy honored Tolentino and said he had spoken to Trentacost, Lora and Tolentino’s wife, offering condolences.

“By all accounts an incredible guy," said Murphy. "And somebody who we mourn with his family friends.”

Tolentino’s death comes as first responders continue to work on the frontlines of the worsening pandemic, often growing sick themselves.

Three Newark police officers and six firefighters tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, city officials announced Tuesday.

At the two state-run coronavirus testing sites, days have been set aside exclusively to test first responders and healthcare workers who continue to expose themselves to the virus by virtue of their jobs.

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Rodrigo Torrejon may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @rodrigotorrejon.


©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

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