Terminally ill firefighter escorted home by emergency responders

Agencies joined forces to transport him by ambulance from Houston to San Antonio, with brothers and sisters saluting him on the way


SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Emergency response agencies from Houston to San Antonio united to bring a terminally firefighter home to see his family before he died.

Mario Lopez, 28, served as a Bexar county volunteer firefighter when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He told his Bexar County Emergency Services District (ESD) 2 Fire Chief Albert Castillo he was not going to quit, News4SanAntonio reports.

“You know, I’m going to fight this, I’m going to win,” Castillo recalls. “He’s not a quitter and he’s like ‘Chief, I am going to walk through those doors, and I am going to be a firefighter again.’”

After 40 days of treatment at Houston’s MD Anderson, Castillo said Lopez got worse.

“Chief I lied to you,” Castillo remembers him saying. “I said, what do you mean, and he said ‘I’m not going to walk through those doors as a firefighter,’ and I lost it.”

Terminally ill, his brothers and sisters across the state joined forces to transport Lopez by ambulance more than 200 miles back to San Antonio from Houston, and saluted him on his journey home.

"I'm not just talking about fire; I'm talking about law enforcement, DPS, Sheriff's Offices along the way you know from Houston to there," Castillo said. “It was amazing, just to see this happening. This brotherhood … everyone came together at this moment."

Lopez made it back home in time to see his family and get married. He died just before 1 a.m. Saturday at North Central Baptist Hospital surrounded by family and friends.

Castillo is coordinating a benefit to help the family with medical bills. 

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