Medic, 19, memorialized at funeral after sudden death
More than 500 turned out to pay tribute to the paramedic and volunteer firefighter who died after heart complications and a recent bout with norovirus
By Brandon Shulleeta and Mark Bowes
CHESTERFIELD, Va. A 19-year-old volunteer firefighter who died suddenly was memorialized by a Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Honor Guard — complete with bagpipes — at his funeral Thursday at Victory Tabernacle Church of God.
About 500 people turned out to remember and pay tribute to Jordan Kuzik, a Manchester High School graduate who became a Chesterfield volunteer firefighter nearly two years ago.
His dream since age 2 was to become a career firefighter, said Kuzik’s mother, who believes heart complications and a recent bout with norovirus may have contributed to his death.
“It just seemed he was here on a mission to accomplish something, and it was firefighting,” said his mother, Darcie Kuzik.
Less than two months before his planned wedding to Monica Alvarez — “the love of his life” — Kuzik died suddenly on Jan. 23.
Kuzik proposed to Alvarez on July 7, and the couple planned to wed on March 15.
Kuzik would have turned 20 in April.
Darcie Kuzik said the family is still waiting for a final report from the state medical examiner’s office. She said he had been ill with norovirus days prior to his death and was believed to have had heart complications.
As a young child, Kuzik wore a bicycle helmet and snow boots — his makeshift firefighter outfit — with a milk cartoon serving as his oxygen tank, Darcie Kuzik said.
His grandmother eventually made him a firefighter costume and gave him a plastic firefighter hat. He would ride around the house on a red toy firefighter Jeep pretending to save people’s lives, his mother recalled.
Darcie Kuzik said her son liked to help people and make people laugh.
He graduated from the Chesterfield Fire and EMS Volunteer Recruit School #27 on March 20, 2012, and less than three months later saved the life of a patient who went into cardiac arrest. For that act of service, he received an Emergency Medical Services award “for skilled actions saving the patient’s life.”
Jordan attended the paramedics program at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center in Chesterfield in conjunction with J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, and was close to completing his associate degree.
At his service Thursday, Pastor Sam Luke of Victory Tabernacle shared words of hope and eternal life through Jesus Christ and that Jordan was now home with the Lord.
“Chesterfield Fire and EMS was proud to have Jordan as part of our organization,” Chesterfield fire Lt. Jason Elmore said. “He had a passion for Fire and EMS and had worked tirelessly to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter. The members of the organization that knew Jordan are blessed to have known such a fine young man. He will truly be missed.”
|McClatchy-Tribune News Service|