NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Drivers along I-91 saw quite the showing of support Thursday as hundreds drove in the funeral procession for fallen New Haven Firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr.
Torres Jr.’s funeral ceremony was held in New Haven, but he was laid to rest Thursday afternoon in the historic cemetery where Katharine Hepburn, J.P. Morgan, and other Connecticut historic figures are buried.
The Engine Six firetruck carrying Firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr. left New Haven leading an emotional state-wide procession.
“It’s really such a sad occasion,” says Michael Freda, First Selectman of North Haven.
The procession made its way onto I-91 north for a commute that was anything but typical.
“This powerful symbol,” added Freda. “I hope in some small way offers some support for the family for this enormous tragedy we’ve seen in the Greater New Haven area.”
Firefighters lined 28 overpasses on I-91 between New Haven and Hartford. When we asked a firefighter what it was all about, he said, “It’s just what we do. It could have been any of us.”
On the Bassett Road bridge, an American flag was draped on an engine’s latter.
Passers-by recognized the significance.
“It’s such a tragedy for this firefighter,” says North Haven Third Selectman, Sally Buemi. “And to hear the honking of the horns and this beautiful flag, it makes you feel a little optimistic.”
And when the massive procession arrived at the overpass, hands became solutes as those in uniform felt grief and showed respect for a young brother gone too soon.
“In times of desperation, when there’s despair, sometimes these demonstrations can offer a little bit of comfort and a little bit of hope,” says Freda. “I think his legacy will endure for decades here in this region.”
The show of support buoyed family and friends all the way to Torres’ final resting place in Hartford, filling a grueling drive with love and pride.
Buemi added, “Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy like this to shake us up and bring us together as a community.”