WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – The community is honoring an Apopka firefighter who died weeks after being injured on the job during a tribute on Monday.
Running 4 Heroes, a nonprofit that honors law enforcement officers and first responders, honored Austin Duran during a mile run at Layer Elementary School in Winter Springs.
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Duran, 25, died on Friday weeks after he was injured on June 30 and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for his injuries, where he had multiple surgeries and was in the ICU. Apopka Fire Chief Sean Wylam told News 6 at the time Duran was working near a secondary garage and trying to move a sand trailer when he was hurt. The trailer is used for hazards like gas and liquid spills.
Days before he died, Duran was on a ventilator and caught pneumonia, according to a GoFundMe update.
In a post made Saturday, the Apopka Professional Firefighters Association said the department was grieving the loss of “our brother, Austin Duran.” He was with the department since July 2020.
“Austin Duran was a marker of the best that our small department and town has to offer. A kind, gentle, humble kid who also vibrated with passion to jump into action and help or save anyone in need,” the association wrote.
His coworkers and many others came together Monday to honor Duran outside of a funeral home in Apopka where they also grieved and consoled each other.
Zechariah Cartledge, 13, is the founder of Running 4 Heroes and organized Monday’s tribute run.
“We’re really excited to see all of the support coming out tonight. We hope the run will be a great memorial for him and we hope that it shows the legacy that he’ll be leaving behind,” Cartledge said. “We want to make sure that any emotion they’re going through tonight can bring a little smile on their face during this mile to prove that firefighter Duran was a great hero and we are honoring him tonight.”
Cartledge has logged more than 1,270 miles so far honoring fallen law enforcement officers and first responders across the country, hoping to support their families.
He said following the run was also be a prayer and a moment of silence.
“When Central Florida loses a first responder, it hurts a lot of people,” Cartledge said. “And you can see that tonight because of how much people are out here supporting Firefighter Duran’s family.”
Duran’s fiancé was present at the tribute. She was given a folded flag in honor of the late firefighter.
The Apopka Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating what happened.
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