LUTZ, Fla. — On Tuesday, Pasco Fire Chief Scott Cassin confirmed what so many had feared: Five-month-old Clara Garcia, the infant daughter of firefighter Hunter Garcia and his wife Kayla, had died from her injuries.
The family was involved in a serious crash last Friday in Hillsborough County.
Garcia’s fellow firefighters have rallied to the young couple’s side, providing a constant presence at St. Joseph’s Hospital where they were taken after the crash.
Hunter -- who suffered injuries to his face -- has been released, but the hospital is allowing him to stay in the same room to grieve with his wife, who is still recovering from spinal and pelvic bone fractures.
"(Clara) was surrounded by her loving family and will be forever in the hearts of the thousands who have come to know her over the past few days," Pasco Fire Rescue said in a release. "We ask the public to please keep Hunter, Kayla, and their families in your thoughts and prayers as they navigate this incredibly difficult time."
Garcia’s colleagues at Pasco Fire Station Number 11 are like his extended family. The department says they’ve already volunteered to cover his shift for the next two months and longer if he needs it.
The firefighters' union is also accepting donations for the Garcia family to help cover funeral costs and any uncovered medical expenses.
Pasco firefighters respond to an average of about 200 calls every day. But when it affects one of their own, the chief says it’s personal. They’re offering counseling to help them continue to help others even as they try to cope with a tragedy of their own.
The chief says the Garcias appreciate the public’s continued prayers and support.
They plan to have a public memorial service for little Clara sometime in the next week.
If you would like to make a contribution to the family, the Pasco Firefighters’ Union has set up a donation page.
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