Homewood firefighter honored by officials, town

April 7, 2010 4:29:08 AM PDT
Thousands attended the funeral of 28-year-old Homewood firefighter Brian Carey, who died while trying to rescue two people from a burning home.

Local and national firefighters and police officers paid tribute to the firefighter, as did the town with many businesses lining a stretch of 95th Street with red ribbons.

"It's very hard on a lot of people. We're real small communities and we work together quite a bit. It just going to take some time to heal," said Lt. Mike Kilburg, Country Club Hills Fire Dept.

Carey served full-time on the Homewood Fire Department for only two months before he died last Tuesday trying to save the life of a World War II veteran. He is the first Homewood firefighter to die while on duty.

"My son is in the fire department and one of my best friend's sons is in the fire department, so our feeling is it could have been our son had it been a different day or a different time," said Presnak, former Homewood fire chief. "The crews on the scene did everything they could, but sometimes things just happen and they're beyond your control.

Carey's funeral was held at St. Bernadette's Church in Evergreen Park, where he went to church and school.

"Brian and I were in Paramedic school together. We graduated in 2005. He was a great guy," said Christine Miller, former classmate.

"The eulogies that were given, you could just picture Brian. He was always happy. Always the life of the party. One of those kids who made everybody feel good," said Cindy Williams, Brian's 8th grade teacher.

"He was an amazing kid, adorable. I saw him at a wedding recently and I told him so. With his red hair...He made up his mind that he was going to be a firefighter and he did," said Kathy Konstant, family friend.

Carey's flag-draped coffin was transported on top of his fire truck, Engine 534. Fellow firefighters served as pallbearers.

Karra Kopas, a part-time firefighter and paramedic seriously injured in the same fire in which Carey died, attended the funeral on a gurney.

Also in attendance was a group from Brian's alma mater, Brother Rice High School. It's been a hard year for them. Brian is the third alum they've lost in the last 12 months.

"We've been hit particularly hard. But what Easter shows us is that when we do come together life does overcome death and we do that best when we come together as brothers," said Brother Paul Ickes, Brother Rice High School.

Carey was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip. The Honor Flag, which was flown over Ground Zero shortly after September 11th, was present. It has been part of police and military funerals since the 2001 attacks.