TULLYTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A Bucks County fire company is mourning the loss of one of its leaders who died from the coronavirus. Assistant Fire Chief Rick Johnson was a firefighter for 33 years.
Johnson is one of the latest Pennsylvanians to lose his life due to complications with COVID-19.
Bagpipes played for a friend, a husband, a father and a long-time firefighter on Saturday. Johnson’s family says he died at 50 years old from complications with the novel coronavirus.
“I’ve known Rick my whole life,” Chief Aaron Cohen said.
Cohen, a long-time friend, says Johnson was his daughter’s godfather.
“He’s a great guy,” Cohen said. “He spent his life down at this firehouse.”
Bunting now hangs outside. The American flag is at half-staff.
Johnson, who grew up in Tullytown, leaves behind a wife, son and daughter.
On Friday night, Johnson’s close friends — all firefighters — stood outside of Jefferson Bucks Hospital, holding his helmet and praying before he took his last breath.
“Sorry, buddy, we can’t be in there with you. Trust me, we’re in there with you,” a firefighter said.
Cohen described what it was like to helplessly stand outside.
Firefighters & police officers from across Bucks County drive past Tullytown Borough Firehouse in honor of Assistant Fire Chief Rick Johnson. Fire officials say Johnson, who was 50-years-old, died from complications from COVID-19. He was a firefighter for 33 years@CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/WUl1ganbmP
— Chantee Lans CBS Philadelphia (@ChanteeLans) April 5, 2020
“Horrible seeing nurses in the window waving down at us, knowing what they’re going through, knowing what a family member of ours is going through,” Cohen said. “It was disheartening.”
On Saturday night, there was some solace during a final salute in honor of Johnson. Firefighters and police from all over Bucks County drove past the Tullytown firehouse as residents looked on because, in their eyes, true heroes never die.
“He was an incredible guy,” Cohen said. “You could call him for anything, he would come there and do whatever he had to do to help you out. He devoted his life to the community, to helping, to volunteering at our fire department and putting it on a map as best as he could.”
Cohen says no other firefighters are showing any signs of having COVID-19. He says his crews have been watching for symptoms very closely.