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'It's just tough:' Cleveland Division of Fire grapples with loss of fallen firefighter

Cleveland firefighter Johnny Tetrick
Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 19:50:53-05

CLEVELAND — After the tragic loss of one of their own, Cleveland firefighters were pushing through the pain Monday.

Gov. DeWine ordered flags to be lowered to half staff in honor of fallen firefighter Johnny Tetrick. The 27-year veteran was fatally hit by a car while responding to a rollover crash on I-90 Saturday night.

“I would just like people to know that the firefighters that serve them – they are all real people, they are hurting extremely badly right now,” said Fire Chief Anthony Luke.

Luke started at the Division of Fire one year before Tetrick. Although they were only acquaintances, he said Tetrick’s had an upstanding reputation on and off duty.

“Johnny Tetrick would be the one person that I would put on a poster to represent the prototypical Cleveland firefighter,” Luke said. “I know his daughters were his entire world - so family. Service was also his world. He loved serving people, he loved the job.”

Tetrick spent almost his entire career with Engine 22. Saturday night, he responded with the unit to a rollover crash on Interstate 90 near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Witnesses reported a car drove through the scene, hit Tetrick and drove off.

RELATED: Cleveland Division of Fire mourns loss of veteran firefighter killed on I-90 last night

“It’s just tough losing someone, it’s just tough seeing the other firefighters in so much pain. It’s tough seeing Johnny’s daughters - you see the pain in their eyes and know Johnny will never be there for them again,” the chief said.

Suspected hit and run driver Leander Bissell appeared in court Monday morning on charges for aggravated vehicular homicide and failure to stop after an accident. The judge ordered a $500,000 bond.

RELATED: Man accused of hitting, killing Cleveland firefighter held on $500,000 bond

Tetrick’s funeral is tentatively planned for either Saturday or Sunday. Luke said the loss is devastating but his commitment to family and service will live on.

“When I did talk to them, I tried to communicate – Johnny will always be here with the people he touched, with the love he put in his daughters. I can see it in their eyes,” he said.

The chief also said Tetrick’s name will likely be added to the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial in time for a St. Patrick’s Day memorial service in March.

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