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Daughter Of Fallen Australian Firefighter Wears Her Dad's Helmet At His Funeral

Ryan Ford 7 Jan 2020

On December 19, Andrew O'Dwyer and Geoffery Keaton of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service were killed in a tragic accident at the scene of the Green Wattle Creek blaze west of Sydney.

The pair died, and three of their comrades were injured, when a tree fell on their truck and it rolled off the road.

Numerous dignitaries, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, attended O'Dwyer's funeral.

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Hundreds of mourners lined the road, hands on hearts, as O'Dwyer's casket made its way to the church, all there to bid farewell to the 36-year-old firefighter.

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That such a huge crowd turned out for O'Dwyer came as no surprise to his brigade captain, Darren Nation.

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"The love he had for the fire brigade was as thick as the blood that ran through his veins," Nation said during the service, ABC News reported.

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Nation also noted that O'Dwyer was a talented photographer.

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Nation said that O'Dwyer enjoyed showing off his brigade on Instagram, but his Facebook page also featured images and recordings of his fellow firefighters.

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Of course, it was his role as a father and husband that O'Dwyer cherished most, his own father said.

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O'Dwyer's father, Errol, remembered his son as a "free spirit who lived in the present and on his terms."

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He is also remembered for madly loving his 19-month-old daughter Charlotte and his wife, Melissa.

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During the service, Charlotte could be seen trying on her dad's helmet as she stood beside his casket.

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Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons presented Melissa with the Commissioner's commendation for extraordinary service and bravery.

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It's the highest accolade that can be given to firefighters in NSW.

"You need to know that your dad was a selfless man, he was a special man," said Fitzsimmons during the service, addressing Charlotte. "There are no words that can adequately describe our sorrow, our respect, our regard, for the loss of Andrew...in that tragic accident."

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"My friends, that is a rare and beautiful person," Nation added.

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"I will never, ever have another Andrew."

After the service was over, members of his brigade performed a ceremonial Maori haka in his honor.

If you'd like to donate to help Australia's relief efforts, there are many good, credible agencies, including the NSW RSPCA and the NSW Rural Fire Service. Donate to the RSPCA right here or to the NSW RFS right here.

h/t: The Australian, ABC News, Facebook | NSW Rural Fire Service

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