YONKERS, N.Y. – As the end of 2012 nears, The Yonkers Daily Voice is taking a look back at some of the year's biggest stories.
Hundreds mourned the passing of Yonkers firefighter Antonio Rodriques who died after falling ill during a department training session in August.
Rodriques, 49, was remembered by colleagues as a man who epitomized the department.
“The day he stepped into our firehouse, it was a good day for us,” Capt. Dominick Fornabaio said at a memorial service. “I’ve spent the last 12 years with him and worked very closely with him. He was a fun guy to be around and he could always be counted on.”
Rodriques, a 12-year veteran of the department, was one of 15 Yonkers firefighters participating in mandatory day-long training in May. Sometime during the day Rodriques began to complain that he was not feeling well but returned to work at his Radford Street station house, fire officials said.
In the days to come the symptoms continued and Rodriques was admitted to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla on July 18, where he died days later. His death was determined to be related to the training incident, and the department ruled it a “line-of-duty death.”
Capt. William Urban said he would remember Rodriques as a great cook and the firehouse joker.
“He was always involved in practical jokes around the firehouse,” Urban said at the memorial. “He wasn’t always like that. When he first got to our house, he was quiet and the first one scrubbing pots and pans. Eventually, he came out of his shell. I’m going to miss him and his cooking. He made the best chicken piccata I ever tasted.”
More than 1,000 family, friends, firefighters and city officials gathered at a funeral mass to bid farewell to Rodriques. There, the Rev. Thomas McDonald, the Yonkers Fire Department chaplain, praised Rodriques' devotion to helping others.
“He was willing to lay down his life and he did it gladly,” McDonald said.