One year ago, a New Haven firefighter responded to a fire, never to return home again.
Thirty year old Ricardo Torres Jr. died saving the lives of others.
On Thursday, loved ones, fellow firefighters and community members came together to memorialize him.
“There was a burning home, a 9-1-1 call went out and Firefighter Torres went in. Lives were saved and his was lost,” said Mayor Justin Elicker at a ceremony at the Dixwell Avenue fire station where Torres was assigned.
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“I had a difficult time again this morning. I got up at 3 a.m. and tore my speech up because my heart just isn’t right. I’m still angry about it as I know you are, too,” said New Haven Fire Chief John Alston.
Torres’ wife was pregnant at the time of his line of duty death, with a toddler in tow, too.
She, his parents and other loved ones listened on at the ceremony as stories of Torres’ bravery, giving nature and passion were shared, the sun shining down on all those who loved him dearly.
“It is said that the human body can generate enough electricity to light a light bulb. Anyone who knew Ricardo Torres knew that his energy level was much, much higher than anyone that you knew. So, if the average person could light a lightbulb, he could light a stadium,” Alston said.
Also in attendance at the memorial, Lt. Samod Rankins, who was injured that fateful day Torres was killed. Both firefighters were found unconscious on the second floor of the Valley Street home.
“Undoubtedly the pain for him, for Ricardo’s fellow firefighters, for Ricardo’s family and friends and for the New Haven community, remains,” Elicker said.
Torres’ fellow brothers and sisters are adamant that he’ll never be forgotten. A bench in his name now sits in front of the station he called home and his turnout coat has been framed, too.
“At 30 years old, Ricardo Torres left us way too soon, but he also left us a model and a legacy. A legacy of service, a legacy of bravery, a legacy of heroism,” Elicker said.
Plus, the chief announced that Yale Emergency Medicine will present an award commissioned in his name for a firefighter as energetic, hardworking and talented as him.
“Every civilian that comes to visit this firehouse from the age of three to 90, maybe even 100, they will see the monuments, they will see the name Rico Torres. They will know the name Tornado,” said Captain Kendall Richardson, who referred to some of Torres’ many nicknames.