PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A Hillsborough County firefighter is still saving lives days after his death.
Jerrad Huprich died over the weekend in an off-duty incident. His mother, Jane Huprich, doesn't want how her son died to overshadow how he lived.
"It was a catastrophic injury," she said. "That is all we're releasing."
How he lived was fully and forcefully.
"Jerrad is full of life. He has always been very ambitious and driven. He has one speed, and it is top speed," Jane Huprich said. "He walks into a room, and you know he's there."
That irrepressible energy was the perfect makings of a dedicated airman and then firefighter, who set his sights on the department in Hillsborough County.
"He'd done his research and he said this is the best place to be, the best team to be on and it's the team I'll be on and he made it," Jane Huprich said.
Now, in death, Jerrad Huprich continues to serve others and save lives. Every viable organ will be donated to those in need.
Jane Huprich only had one request.
"I did say, I want his whole eye to go, not just the retina," she said. "I want it all because what's going to make things good for me and help me through all of this is to one day be able to look into those eyes and know he's still seeing something."
Organ donation was something Jerrad Huprich was passionate about, even when his mother wasn't as sure.
After telling her son she didn't like the idea of giving away his organs, he apparently said, "If you don't do it, I'll haunt you!" Jane Huprich laughed.
Now, she's grateful her strong-willed son pushed to give his organs new life.
"It's a tough time to get through when you are losing someone, but it's a little bit of joy and a little bit of a hug around your heart to know you can help someone else," Jane Huprich said.
Jane Huprich said LifeLink coordinates introductions between organ recipients and the donor's family. She hopes to meet some of the recipients in the next few months.
A gathering of family and friends and the funeral service are scheduled for next week and are open to the public:
Gathering of family and friends
When: 4-8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30
Where: Boza & Roel Funeral Home, 4730 North Armenia Avenue, Tampa, FL
When: 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 31
Where: Riverhills Church of God, 6310 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL