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Meridian firefighter remembered 5 years after tragic accident

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 8:29 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - It was a somber Thursday morning at Meridian’s Central Fire Station. It marked five years since Meridian firefighter Eric Gustafson was killed in an accident.

Family, friends, firefighters and other first responders gathered to honor Eric Gustafson with a special memorial service

“We are here to support each other after no matter what the results are,” Meridian Fire Chief Jason Collier said. “In this case we are supporting Eric’s family. We are supporting Jeff and David as they are still here and still a part of our family.”

Gustafson was 40-years-old when he died on September 9, 2016. Everyone said he was passionate about being a firefighter and as thankful to be a member of the firefighting community in Meridian.

“The fire chief said he never had a student that asked as many questions as Eric,” Eric’s mother, Jan Gustafson said. “He was always questioning everything. I said, ‘I know. I’m his mother and grew up with that all those years.’ It was a beautiful tribute for him today and we’re very grateful for the city of Meridian.”

In the accident, Captain Jeff Stuart and Firefighter David Carney were riding in Engine 3 when it overturned. They were severely injured. It’s a day this department will never forget.

“They made a great sacrifice. All three of them. One made the ultimate sacrifice and the other two a great sacrifice. They are still making sacrifices because of that. Their lives were forever changed because of that and tragically so,” Collier said.

They might have replaced the fire truck that crashed that day, but they will never replace the memories, sacrifice and risk that come with being a firefighter.

“Eric loved Meridian and loved what he did,” Jan Gustafson explained. “He loved being a fireman. He was so proud of that and we were proud of him for it. His life was cut short but God had his own plans that were not in my plans. I know he’s looking down today smiling and missing his fellow firefighters, that’s for sure.”

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