YONKERS, N.Y. – A Yonkers firefighter who died this week from complications of a stroke was going through "strenuous" training required of all New York firefighters when he suffered the injuries that led to his death, fire officials said Thursday.
Acting Fire Commissioner John Flynn said Antonio Rodriques was one of 15 to 20 Yonkers firefighters participating in day-long training in Valhalla on May 9. The practice session, in which firefighters in full gear bail headfirst out a top-floor window, was one of three training days firefighters are required to attend each year, he said.
“It’s outside, hands-on training,” Flynn said, adding, “It’s very strenuous.”
Sometime during the day Rodriques began to complain that he was not feeling well and exhibit “symptoms of not being well,” Flynn said. Colleagues told him to sit down and rehydrate and suggested he seek medical attention, which Rodriques declined, Flynn said.
Rodriques returned to work at his Radford Street station house in the days to come, and the symptoms continued, Flynn said, declining to go into specifics.
“Between that date and when he was eventually hospitalized, numerous people said he was complaining of not being well and exhibiting symptoms of not being well,” Flynn said.
Rodriques was admitted to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla on July 18, and died there Tuesday night. His death was determined to be related to the training incident, and the department ruled it a “line-of-duty death.”
Then Acting Fire Commissioner Charles Gardner signed off on the ruling.
“There were numerous people who connected the dots and put these reports in that said this was related to that training day incident,” Flynn said.
The mayor’s office issued a news release Wednesday attributing the firefighter’s death to a hemorrhagic stroke suffered earlier this summer. Mayoral aides continue to investigate whether the May training led to his death.
Christina Gilmartin, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said Thursday the city recognizes the “line-of-duty death” distinction and that Rodriques’ funeral will be conducted accordingly.
She added that Rodriques’ family is entitled to a voluntary city employee life insurance policy.
Firefighters who die in the line of duty are also entitled to a second life insurance plan, the amount of which is undetermined, Gilmartin said.