Fire dept. pays final respects to fallen San Antonio firefighter
Greg Garza died after he tripped or stumbled from a fire truck onto the street, where he was hit by an oncoming vehicle
By Taylor Pettaway
San Antonio Express-News
SAN ANTONIO — As she watched the funeral procession for fallen firefighter Greg Garza make its way north on U.S. 281., Sylvia Priest was reminded of the dangers her own son faces
Priest, whose son David is also with the San Antonio Fire Department, stood on the skywalk at the University of Incarnate Word to show her support for SAFD and for the Garza family.
"It is something you never hope to be in. I don't want to be his mother's position," Priest said tearfully. "It is touching to see (everyone coming together) but it brings to life how serious their job is and how they put their lives in danger."
Priest's grandson and daughter Sandra Parsley were also there clad in shirts with firetrucks and the SAFD emblem.
Parsley said with her brother in the fire service, it was important for them to be there today.
"It is neat to see the city come together like this, to support Garza and his family," Parsley said. "It's wonderful to see them honor him."
Garza also had a different kind of family come out to watch the procession. Ralph Flanigan, an employee at UIW, said he wanted to be there to support the man who used to walk their campus.
"He graduated from UIW, so we need to support him," Flanigan said. "He is a part of our family... that is the spirit of Incarnate Word, we stick together."
Set against a cloudy, grey San Antonio skyline, dozens of Incarnate Word High School students stood over U.S. 281 waiting for the funeral procession of fallen firefighter Greg Garza.
“These guys put their lives on the line and it is touching,” said Mary Ann de la Garza, a teacher at the school. “We wanted them to experience this and it was one of our students (Carolina Taboada) who suggested we start singing when it comes.”
The two dozen girls from the high school stood on the skywalk near the University of Incarnate Word, waiting for the line of first responders to come down the highway.
“I think it’s a sign of respect, we want to show them that we as students care and appreciate what (Garza) has done for us,” said senior Mariam Dimaala. “It hurts to see that is he gone, he gave his life to help people. A lot of people care about him and it shows.”
As the procession passed beneath the skywalk, dozens of students and staff of the high school softly began to sing the National Anthem, their final respect for Garza.
REST IN PEACE: The funeral for fallen San Antonio firefighter Greg Garza is underway. https://t.co/Ud5CKa4qox— News 4 San Antonio (@News4SA) October 24, 2019
Dozens of people lined Alamo Plaza Thursday morning to honor Garza. Around 11 a.m., the procession of fire engines and trucks — including one carrying Garza's casket, draped in an American flag — was led by rows of San Antonio police officers on motorcycles beneath a Texas flag hanging from ladders extended over the intersection.
Stephen Hedrick stood silently as the truck carrying Garza's body drove past. Hedrick, a construction worker, said he took the day off work to honor Garza and thank law enforcement officials in general.
"He passed away doing what he loved doing," he said. "He didn't know me, but he would've rescued me."
Hedrick said he wasn't able to participate in the ceremonies honoring Scott Deem, a firefighter who died in a blaze in 2017, which motivated him to make sure he attended Garza's. "The least I can do is show some respect on his last day."
The City of San Antonio has started to gather as citizens and first responders pay their last respects for fallen firefighter Greg Garza.
Garza, a 17-year-veteran with San Antonio Fire, was killed on duty last week after getting struck by a vehicle while responding to smoke at a downtown hotel. His funeral is happening this afternoon at the Community Bible Church. The family's procession to the church from Porter Loring Mortuary is expected to begin at 10:45 a.m.
First responders lined the streets down U.S. 281 through downtown as Garza was brought to the funeral service.
Several events were held this week to honor Garza, including a prayer vigil on Wednesday and an honor walk on Monday, featuring first responders proceeding through downtown San Antonio.
The Texas Department of Transportation is warning drivers to expect traffic delays on U.S. 281 Thursday morning due to the procession for San Antonio's fallen firefighter Greg Garza.
TxDot said the delays are expected around U.S. 281 northbound and Loop 1604 interchange.
The first procession is expected to leave the Alamodome at 9 a.m., and the family procession is expected to begin at 10:45 a.m. and will go through downtown to U.S. 281.
©2019 the San Antonio Express-News
Today we honor the life of San Antonio Firefighter Greg Garza. We thank him for his service and sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/H7nL7i9rwM— Community Bible (@CBCSocial) October 24, 2019