CHICAGO (WLS) --Family and friends gathered Wednesday to honor Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano. He was killed last year while battling a fire on the South Side.
"A hard worker, great family man who loved the job with a passion," Chicago Fire Dept. Cmsr. Jose Santiago said.
The Capuano family was left with beautiful tokens of remembrance, none more meaningful than the badge placed inside the case dedicated to fallen members of the Chicago Fire Department.
Firefighter Dan Capuano's 12-year-old son Nick took in the mark that will be there forever as his mother tried to stay strong for her family.
"It is an honor to be among those that have given their lives for the city and the people of city of Chicago, but it is heartbreaking but we have lost so much. We can never replace him," said Julie Capuano, widow of fallen firefighter.
The 42-year-old died fighting a fire in an old warehouse just before Christmas last year. The 15-year veteran, who started out as an ambulance paramedic in Evergreen Park, was a dedicated father of three and a hockey coach. He fell two stories through an unmarked elevator shaft as he battled smoke to find the source of the flames.
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"Everybody is trying to get out of the fire; they're going into the fire. I knew it was dangerous but nothing can prepare you for this," Julie Capuano said.
But tragedies teach, the city's top firefighter said. He also said he believed Capuano's death was avoidable.
"It was. It definitely was. If the rules were followed Capuano, the family, would not be going through this," Santiago said.
It was a point highlighted earlier at City Hall where Mayor Rahm Emanuel saluted sacrifice.
"I want to thank you on behalf of the people of the city of Chicago for sharing Dan," Emanuel said.
Later, Dan Capuano's name was added to the city's firefighter's memorial - another ritual meant to heal hurts which, in certain ways, won't ever go away.