Firefighter dies days after falling from aerial ladder in training
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - A Los Angeles firefighter who was injured during a training exercise over the weekend died Monday at a hospital, and city and LAFD officials vowed to support the young man's family, most notably his roughly year-old son.
Kelly Wong, 29, fell from a Los Angeles Fire Department aerial ladder while participating in the exercise in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday morning, according to the LAFD.
"Despite the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses at the hospital, Firefighter Wong succumbed to his injuries early (this) morning,'' LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said.
At about 10 a.m., firefighters escorted Wong's body as it was taken from Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center to the nearby coroner's office.
Wong, a two-year veteran, was assigned to Fire Station 92 in Rancho Park. He had been scheduled to transfer to Fire Station 9 serving downtown Los Angeles and Skid Row on June 12 and was working at that station at the time of the accident.
Wong graduated from the LAFD Recruit Academy on Terminal Island in August 2015 and was the top academic performer in his class, Sanders said.
"Kelly's dream since he was a little boy was to be a firefighter,'' LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said. "His mother, Ann, shared that story with me that Kelly liked to play with fire trucks growing up. He applied with several departments but he wanted to work for the best. He wanted to work for the Los Angeles Fire Department. And he accomplished his goal.''
His friend and fellow firefighter Mike Spears from station 92 in Rancho Park told FOX 11's Logan Byrnes: "He's the kind of guy that always had the best attitude, willing to work anywhere and learn everything about the fire dept including being a great cook."
Firefighter Wong's family and friends - fought back tears and shared a moment of prayer.
The flag, covering firefighter Wong was then folded and presented to his wife Danielle who took a moment to place her hand on her husbands body...kneel down beside it and say good bye.
Wong is survived by his wife Danielle; his infant son Colton; his mother Ann; his mother-in-law and father-in-law Barbara and Michael Quinlan; and his sisters-in-law Nicole and Stephanie.
Mayor Eric Garcetti's eyes watered and his voice broke as he talked about Wong's death and his young son, saying the boy will have "a lot of uncles and aunts'' looking over him.
"This department and this city will ensure that he grows up with a life of love and knowing what a hero his father was,'' Garcetti said. "So I'm here to represent 4 million grateful souls today.''
Terrazas echoed that sentiment, describing the immediate outpouring of support that came from fellow firefighters and people across the city. The chief added that the type of training in which Wong was killed will continue.
"When Kelly was injured, the crew at Fire Station 9 was training, and I always tell our people that the first thing, the most important thing that we do is respond to emergencies,'' he said. "The second most important thing we do is train to respond to emergencies. We will continue to train whether it be for a high-rise fire, a brush fire, a medical event, whatever incident type it is, we will continue to train to be ready so we can protect the people of this great city.''
The LAFD, in conjunction with state safety agencies, is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the death. Memorial services are pending.
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