Community gathers for fallen hero's funeral - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Community gathers for fallen hero's funeral

By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

LANIER COUNTY, GA (WALB) - At the Lanier County intersection where 34-year-old volunteer fireman Derek North was killed in a wreck Monday afternoon, two ladder trucks assembled in remembrance.

They formed an arch, which the funeral procession would later travel beneath.

North's funeral was held at Lakeland's Southside Baptist Church.  Officers from the Lanier County Sheriff's Office helped guide the mass of mourners.  Hundreds of people, including more than one hundred firefighters, were in attendance.

"He's one of our firefighters in our backyard," says Chief Jerry Smith of the Valdosta Police Department.  "All the firefighters at the Valdosta Fire Department, we mourn this, and we're here to show the family support."

Fire departments all the way from Middle Georgia to North Florida came together.

William Trinder, Fire Chief for the volunteer fire department of Jasper, Florida, says,"Fire fighting is a family. It doesn't matter what state, city, country, whatever. We're all part of a family, and when one hurts, we all hurt."

The North family arrived at 2 o'clock, and were greeted by a line of firefighters and local emergency responders.  They were all there to honor Derek North--one of their own, killed in the line of duty.

Though North may be gone, his bravery will never be forgotten.

"I'm sorry for the loss, I'm proud that he was one of us, and always remember that he is one of us," says Chief Tinder.

The simple black shroud adorning Stockton's fire truck serves as a reminder of Derek North's selfless commitment to protect and serve.

North's wife Ruby gave a moving speech at the funeral service before saluting the man who was not only her husband, but her fellow volunteer fireman.

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