JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (The video above is from a previous story)
A lieutenant with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department has died as a result of COVID-19, said the agency Wednesday.
Lieutenant Mario J. Moya of Rescue-42-B served JFRD for 17 years.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Lieutenant Moya unselfishly served this community while continually exposing himself to the very virus that cost him his life," said JFRD.
The flag flies at half staff at Station 42 in Mandarin where Lt. Moya spent most of his 17-year career. He also lived in the Mandarin community.
“It's extreme grief and sadness,” said Chief of Rescue David Castleman, with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
That's how Chief of Rescue David Castleman describes his feelings.
“I had the privilege of working with Mario for three years," Castleman said.
Now Castleman and the entire department are in shock hearing Lt. Moya died Tuesday from COVID-19.
“Just a big guy with a big smile. He embodied what this department is. We’re public servants and the men and women, they do their best," Castleman said.
The man with the big smile and gentle heart took his final ride home Wednesday.
“I got choked up a few times as we passed along to see the men and women of the department standing on the side of the road and saluting and even just private citizens pulling their car off the road and putting their hands over their hearts," Castleman said.
“It’s dangerous every day," Randy Wyse said.
Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters President Randy Wyse said that danger is compounded with the coronavirus pandemic surging on the First Coast.
“A year and a half ago, the danger level went up on a much broader scale. Every call we’re going on, there’s a possibility of an exposure," Wyse said.
“He provided for his family, and he took care of the community he lived in," Castleman said. "It’s going to be a great loss for this department and something we won’t get over for a long time.”
Funeral arrangements are being planned and should be announced soon. Mt. Moya was a veteran and will have full military honors at his funeral.
The agency says he is survived by his wife Christina and children Bobby, Bella, and MJ.
A procession was held Wednesday afternoon to honor his life. It was attended by his family, his station and dozens of other first responders.
Related Story: A new facility to help treat people infected with COVID-19 opened Tuesday at the Jacksonville Main Library Conference Center.
Patients enter through the doors on Main Street to receive monoclonal antibody treatment without the need for a prescription or referral, in accordance with an order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The treatment can potentially be a lifesaver for those afflicted with COVID-19, particularly at-risk people.