Returning from a Fourth of July neighborhood parade, the fire truck that Lt. Richard Olmo had been assigned to as a paramedic pulled into Fire Station 41 without him.
Nearby, his helmet and gear that he left behind were stark reminders of the San Antonio Fire Department’s loss.
“He probably saved so many lives. He was in EMS for a long time and in charge of a fire company here,” said Lt. Stephen Torres, also assigned the same Northwest side fire station in the 9100 block of Dover Ridge.
Torres said the 25-year veteran was killed Tuesday morning on his way there when DPS reports Olmo lost control of his vehicle as he rounded a curve on Highway 16 near Pipe Creek.
DPS reports the vehicle rolled several times, ejecting Olmo who was not wearing a seatbelt.
“That was a shock to us because he was big on that,” Torres said, besides that being a city requirement.
Torres said before the fire truck left the station, Olmo would turn to the firefighters on board, “Hey, seatbelts, guys, seatbelts.”
Capt. Jeff Wilson, who knew Olmo long before he came to Station 41, said perhaps he had forgotten to buckle up for some reason that morning.
But even if Olmo had secured his seatbelt, Wilson said, “If you roll a vehicle a few times, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’re not going to be ejected out of the car.”
Now the American flag is at half staff at fire stations throughout the city and fire department personnel have placed black tape over their badges to symbolize their grief.
“It’s great to know that you have another family and when you lose a family member like that, it tears you up,” Wilson said.
Torres said he felt much the same way.
“It’s like a gut punch and you can almost feel the hole in you,” Torres said.
Both said they will remember Olmo as a soft-spoken, humble man who never uttered a bad word about anyone.
“I know it’s a cliché you hear, ‘Oh, he was such a nice guy.’ Well, this guy truly was,” Torres said.
With the department only two years, Manuel Rodriguez said he saw Olmo as an example of what he hopes to become.
Rodriguez said Olmo offered advice to the next generation of firefighters like himself.
He said Olmo would tell him, “Keep doing the right thing. Integrity is big and keep smiling, encouraging others.”
They and others at Fire Station 41 said they want to offer Olmo’s wife and two children their deepest condolences.