SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio firefighter died Tuesday after he was struck by a vehicle at the scene of a fire, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.
Firefighter Greg Garza, 49, was among a group of firefighters who responded to a call for an electrical problem at the Comfort Inn Suites in the 500 block of Live Oak Street around 7 a.m., when he stumbled while exiting a fire apparatus and was hit by a van, Hood said.
Garza, a 17-year veteran of the department, suffered a traumatic arrest at the scene and was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:04 a.m., Hood said.
Garza was surrounded by his parents, siblings and wife at the hospital, Hood said.
"It's one of those calls that shake you to the core when you here something like this," Hood said. "This is stunning. This is stunning for our organization. It's stunning because we respond to so many dangerous calls every single day. This only validates just how dangerous, how deadly, that this job is every single day."
The pickup truck driver stopped at the scene to render aid and was grief-stricken, Hood said.
"We spent a lot of time treating him psychologically for what he is going through," he said. "It was a simple accident and you can't explain why." No charges are pending against the driver.
Hood said that Garza 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."
Hood said he last saw Garza recently at a fire scene and greeted him like he always does for his other firefighters.
"When I see Greg, it's always a big hug," he said.
Hood asked residents for prayers and support for Garza's family and the Fire Department.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg released a statement regarding Garza's death, saying, "Our hearts break today for the loss of one of our own first responders. Mr. Garza was a son of San Antonio and honorably served as a San Antonio Firefighter for 17 years. San Antonio's loss today is a tragic reminder of how much our first responders and their families sacrifice to keep us all safe. Our thoughts, prayers and hearts rest with the Garza family and our firefighters today. Let us lift them up."
Memorial services are pending.
A memorial account for Garza has been set up at Generations FCU. Anyone wishing to donate should reference the "Greg Garza Memorial Account."
Anyone who would like to donate or help the 100 Club of San Antonio, which provides support for the families of fallen first responders, click here.
Richard Miller, president of the 100 Club of San Antonio, said presenting a check to a family of a fallen first responder is "letting them know that a grateful community is there for them."
Miller said since the 100 Club was created in 1973, Greg Garza is only the second San Antonio firefighter to have died while on the duty in several decades. The other was Scott Deem who was killed during a raging fire at a strip center in May 2017.
"This is very rare," Miller said.
The San Antonio Fire Department has set up a website for information for people who wish to make a donation to Garza's family. The website will also have information on memorial services, which have not been released as of Wednesday morning.