‘Carolina Brotherhood’ rides in memory of fallen Wilmington firefighter, Department dedicates memorial to him
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Fire Department unveiled a bronzed fire helmet and boots Tuesday evening in honor of Captain Eric Lacewell.
Lacewell fell while on duty in 2011 and was paralyzed from the shoulders down. He died from complications from those injuries in 2014.
Lacewell’s family was presented with a flag and a badge from the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation. The ceremony was at 6:30 p.m. at Empie Park Fire Station Number Two off of Park Avenue.
The ceremony coincided with the arrival of the Carolina Brotherhood bikers to Wilmington. The group of 60 bikers and volunteers from North and South Carolina ride in memory of those who lost their lives in the line of duty and who were from the Carolinas. They provide emotional and financial support for the families as well.
Lacewell is one of the 17 fire, law and EMS members who died in the line of duty the Carolina Brotherhood is riding in memory of this year. Wilmington Deputy Fire Chief J.S. Mason is one of the bikers. He was a close friend of Lacewell’s.
“When we get out there on the bikes and it’s hot, and it’s long, and you start going up the hills in the mountains, it’s hard and it’s a bit like suffering," Mason said.
“It’s a lot like suffering, actually, but you think about why we’re doing it, the money that we raise, the good that it does, and the impact that it has on families. We got to see Eric’s family today and put our arms around him and tell them how much we appreciate Eric’s service,” Mason said.
City leaders, community members and first responders filled up the seats at the ceremony. Lacewell’s family said they know what his service meant to the area, and are glad others do as well.
“You really don’t know what to say when this many people come out to honor somebody that you already know is special, but they don’t even know him and they come this far to honor him. It’s really overwhelming," Pamela Lacewell Graham, Lacewell’s sister, said.
“This just solidifies what we always knew, that he was a very special person. It is an honor to see that other people notice that because the family could say it all day long, and they say ‘its just because we’re family.' But when people say it who don’t really know him, it really means a lot,” she said.
The bikers left from Windsor, N.C., stopped in Goldsboro, N.C., and are expected to arrive at Station Number Two around 4 p.m. Tuesday. The team members, who are all first responders, will leave Wilmington Wednesday morning. They’ll travel through South Carolina and end up back in North Carolina Saturday. At the end of the trip, they’ll have completed 600 miles in six days.
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