The Apopka community is in mourning after the shocking death of Firefighter/EMT Austin Duran.
Social media can sometimes be an outlet for a community to express its grief and condolences. And this weekend, Apopka showed exactly how much its heart is broken, but also that they will never forget Austin.
On Saturday, the Apopka Fire Department released the following statement:
"With a heavy heart and deep sadness, the Apopka Fire Department announces the Line of Duty Death of Fire Fighter Austin Duran related to injuries sustained on June 30th, 2022.
Austin joined our fire department family as a Fire Explorer during high school and started working with the Apopka Fire Department in July 2020.
There are truly no words for the magnitude of this particular loss. We lost our brother, our friend, and a member of our family. Our hearts are broken for our department, for Austin’s family, and for our community. It is in these moments of sheer tragedy that our brother/sisterhood is reminded of the brevity of life, and the importance of standing together as a family.
We ask that everyone continue to pray over our entire department, and to lift us up during this time, to come together as a community and family to lead each other through this unspeakable loss."
The Apopka Professional Firefighters Association also released a statement and made a call for action:
Right now, as a department, we are reeling. The bravest and strongest among us have been rocked to the core and we are battling on the ropes. We are all scrambling and searching the depths of our hearts and psyches to wrap our minds around the loss of our brother Austin Duran, and we don’t expect to receive any answers or justifications that will salve our wounds for some time.
Austin Duran was a marker of the best that our small department and town has to offer. A kind, gentle, humble kid who also vibrated with passion to jump into action and help or save anyone in need. He had the type and quality of character that would blush at the firehouse table when pressed; yet, would still run courageously into harms way, because that was the right thing to do.
Austin was everyone’s favorite brother and he will prove to be our department’s future savior. His sacrifice binds together all of us left, in the wake of his passing, to our commitment of being a Fire Department worthy of a hero like Austin having called us his home.
Rest now brother, we will take it from here. We love you, your family loves you, and we will honor all that you left behind. Count on it."
Other leaders and agencies also expressed their condolences.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce that heaven gained an angel yesterday," said a statement on Facebook from the Apopka Police Department
. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Apopka Fire Department
, family, friends, and everyone affected by the tragic loss of Austin Duran. Rest In Peace Austin – End Of Watch – 07/15/2022."
Former Apopka Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale sent The Apopka Voice his thoughts about this tragic event:
“I was devastated to hear of the loss of Firefighter Austin Duran. My thoughts and prayers go out to Austin’s family and friends and to his extended family at the Apopka Fire Department. May they all find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their sorrow and cared for so much by this community.”
Apopka City Commissioner Diane Velazquez posted her condolences on her Facebook page:
"‘Forever you shall remain in our Hearts’
Apopka Firefighter AUSTIN DURAN,
End of Tour: July 15, 2022
‘Your passing will not be in vain…’
Our City mourns the loss of our young firefighter from a line of duty injury, on June 30, 2022
Firefighter Duran fought bravely through his injuries sadly, he succumbed to those injuries, yesterday, July 15, 2022
Our sincere condolences to his loving family and to his fellow Apopka Firefighters and to the City of Apopka, we are deeply saddened with his passing, Firefighter AUSTIN DURAN, served our City with Honor & with love for his profession, A Firefighter."
Commissioner Nick Nesta also offered condolences:
"Our hearts are broken over the loss of Apopka firefighter Austin Duran. He bravely served our community and fought for his life after a tragic injury. Our firefighters are such a huge and integral part of our community; the enormity of this loss will be felt throughout the department and our city. We pray for peace and comfort for the Duran family during this time. You will not be forgotten, Austin."
Former Commissioner Kyle Becker spoke of his sorrow on his Facebook page:
"The Becker family would like to extend our sincere condolences to the many who called Apopka Firefighter Austin Duran family, friend, or fellow firefighter. We are heartbroken, but take comfort that his memory and service to others is a torch flame that will never be extinguished. Thank you, Austin, you served admirably and fought bravely."
Sierra Duran, Austin's sister, was a constant force during his multiple operations after the accident. Sierra launched a GoFundMe page and kept the community updated throughout Austin's fight. She offered these inspiring words on Facebook Sunday:
"When we were younger Austin was my worst enemy and over time turned into my best friend. For as long as I can remember though, Austin always had my back and he knew I would always have his. I have lived my whole life with him and am not sure how I am now supposed to continue without him. I am going to miss him so much. Austin, I love you,
and like I’ve told you for the past 17 days, I will see you soon."