A Marion County firefighter who was assigned to Station 10 in The Villages has died.
Marion County Fire Rescue Chief James Banta announced the loss of firefighter/EMT Emilio Rivera on the agency’s Facebook page. Rivera had served in the Marine Corps and had been a firefighter for more than five years. Banta didn’t release his cause of death.
“His drive, determination, and work ethic inspired all who he came into contact with,” Banta wrote of Rivera, who also had spent time working at Friendship Fire Station 21 on SW 90th Street in Ocala and Operations Station 33 on SE Maricamp Road in Ocala.
Banta encouraged Rivera’s grieving colleagues to reach out to the fire department’s chaplain, Joe LaCognata, who will be available on a 24/7 basis. He said senior staff members also would be available for those who needed to speak with someone.
“We will get through this trying time together,” Banta said.
Beginning Wednesday, U.S. flags at all Marion County buildings are being flown at half-mast in honor of Rivera. They will remain at half-mast until sundown on the day of his interment, which hasn’t yet been announced.
As of late Wednesday morning, close to 500 people had commented on the Facebook post about Rivera’s death. Several fire departments across the country offered their condolences. And the Ocala Police Department reposted the information on its Facebook page with this message: “Today we are mourning the loss of another member of our first responder family and brother in red, Marion County Fire Rescue’s Emilio Rivera. We offer our sincerest condolences during this difficult time. Our hearts break for the family at home and family at work.”
Some of the other posts on the Marion County Fire Rescue Facebook page included:
- Dee Michaelangelo: “My sincere condolences. Thank you FF/EMT Rivera for your dedicated service and sacrifices in the US Marine Corps and Marion County. May God comfort your family and friends during this difficult time… Soar with the angels.”
- Suzanne Patsio-Heffinger: My deepest condolences to his family, friends, brothers and sisters whom had the honor of working with him. A true Hero gets his wings, and heaven has gained a beautiful soul.”
- Jorge Cortes Jr.: RIP brother, it was a pleasure to have worked with you… you’ll be missed, we will take it from here!”
- Catherine Wright Wingate: Don’t know this young man, but the fact he was a Marine and a firefighter just breaks my heart. The pictures show a beautiful person. Rest in Peace, Condolences to all of your family, friends, co-workers and your Marine brothers! Semper Fi!”