A 16 1/2-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department died Saturday from complications of the coronavirus, officials said.
Firefighter and paramedic Jose M. Perez, 44, is survived by his wife and three children, according to the Fire Department. He’s the first LAFD firefighter reported to have died of COVID-19.
According to a GoFundMe page set up for his family, his children are 3, 8 and 14. He died just 15 days after learning he had contracted the virus “while treating and caring for the citizens of Los Angeles,” the page said.
The message continued: “It was not uncommon that he would spend his own personal money to buy medications for people who were less fortunate and cannot afford them, often he was found not only providing excellent medical care but offering a shoulder to lean on to anyone who needed it.”
“Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and the entire Department send their deepest and most sincere condolences to the Perez family,” a statement from the department said on Sautrday.
That night, LAFD held a procession from La Palma area to Whittier and thanked other agencies in “honoring our brother,” including the La Palma Police Department, the Orange County Fire Authority, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.
At least 145 LAFD employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, 108 of them have returned to work and 36 of them recovering at home, the L.A. Times reported.
The Fire Department provided no further information about Perez’s death.