Memorial services for San Antonio firefighter Greg Garza, a 17-year veteran of the department who died Tuesday morning, are scheduled for next Wednesday, Oct. 23. Processions and a private funeral will take place on Thursday, Oct. 24.
San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) is organizing an “Honor Walk” for Tuesday, Oct. 22 that will start at the Alamodome at 10 a.m. Firefighters and local officials will head to Main Plaza via Tower of Americas Way and Market Street.
“[The] Honor Walk is not for the general public to participate in, only to view,” according to a news release.
Porter Loring Mortuary at 1101 McCullough Ave. will host two visitations on Wednesday – one from 3-5 p.m. for SAFD members and another from 5-6 p.m. for the public. A prayer vigil will follow at 7 p.m.
On Thursday morning, an SAFD procession will leave the Alamodome while a family procession will leave Porter Loring in the morning to arrive at noon for a private funeral at Community Bible Church. The funeral and interment are not open to the general public.
Garza and other firefighters from Station 1 were responding to an electrical problem at the Comfort Inn Suites at 505 Live Oak St., when he apparently stumbled or tripped off a fire truck into the street and was killed by a passing vehicle, Fire Chief Charles Hood said. He died of his injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center. a 17-year San Antonio Fire Department veteran,
“This is stunning for our organization,” Hood said. “We respond on so many calls every day … [then] we get a firefighter killed that stumbled off a truck, just a sheer accident.”
Hood spoke at a press conference, where he was flanked by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Manager Erik Walsh, and most City Council members.
The driver of the vehicle that struck Garza stopped and was unlikely to face charges, Hood said, describing the driver as “grief-stricken.”
Hood said 20 to 25 medical personnel at Brooke worked to treat Garza, “doing everything humanly possible to save him.” Garza’s wife, parents, and siblings were at his side when he died, the fire chief said.
“It validates how deadly this job is every single day,” Hood said. “In saying that, I speak to my firefighters who are stunned, ever single one of them. … This city continues to need us. We’re hurt right now. We’re beat up. We’re bruised … On this day, this department is suffering one of its worst days.”
Garza, 49, was the first San Antonio firefighter killed in the line of duty since May 18, 2017, when 31-year-old Scott Deem was killed battling a large fire at a strip mall on the Northwest side. Two other firefighters, Brad Phipps and Robert Vasquez, sustained serious injuries in the fire.
Before Deem’s death, the San Antonio Fire Department had not lost a firefighter in the line of duty in 20 years.
“Today our city lost a son, we lost a husband, we lost a brother,” Nirenberg said. “Every life is precious, but when we lose one of our first responders … it’s devastating for this entire community. … We ask for your understanding for the suffering the family will be going through. … Today was a tragic day for our city and one where we need to grow closer and embrace each other and understand the love that’s in this city that Greg fought for every single day.”
Hood called Garza a close friend who was devoted to his job.
“He was a stunningly tall, muscular man,” he said. “He was a happy individual. Every time you saw Greg, he had a big smile on his face.
I knew and loved Greg Garza. I had a relationship with him.”
Garza worked at Fire Station No. 1 on the city’s East Side, where he was part of the Platform 3 crew. To benefit Garza’s widow, the fire department has set up a memorial account at Generations Federal Credit Union to which members of the public may donate.