Family of Apopka firefighter who died after work injury files lawsuit against city

Austin Duran died in July 2022

Photos of Austin Duran shared by his family. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

APOPKA, Fla. – The family of an Apopka firefighter who died in July 2022, weeks after being injured on the job filed a lawsuit against the city, according to court records released Friday.

Austin Duran, 25, was injured while trying to move a sand trailer on June 30. He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he underwent multiple surgeries and was in ICU. He later died from his injuries.

The fire department said the trailer is used for hazards like gas spills and liquid spills.

Duran’s family claims the city was responsible for “the training and supervision of Fire Department personnel of City of Apopka.”

The lawsuit also alleges the sand trailer was “defectively and dangerously constructed” and maintained by the city.

“The Sand Trailer was known by the Defendant to have been constructed in a standard that did not comply with safety, (didn’t) have adequate safeguard to keep the Sand Trailer from tipping over, as it did on Austin Duran and did not have safety measures, procedures or warnings on the Sand Trailer to warn those using the trailer of the dangers and hidden dangers,” the lawsuit reads.

During a news conference last year, Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson said that following an investigation into Duran’s death, only one violation by the fire department was discovered: a lack of training for the sand trailer. Nelson added that the trailer should have never been in service, as it had already been in service for more than 20 years. However, no details were provided about why the trailer was still in use.

An audit was also released following Duran’s death that pointed to major concerns about the fire department, such as its culture and training practices.

Earlier this year, Duran was voted Firefighter of the Year for 2022.

“Austin joined our fire department family as a Fire Explorer during high school and started working with the Apopka Fire Department in July 2020. During his time with our department Austin showed integrity, a hard work ethic, pride in the job, an eagerness to learn, and an unwavering willingness to help others,” the department wrote on Facebook.

Read the lawsuit below:

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.