A somber Saturday in the Southern Tier as family and friends gathered Saturday to pay tribute to a fallen hero. Calling hours for Owego Firefighter Matthew Porcari were held at the village's Middle School. YNN’s Elyse Mickalonis spoke to people who knew him and will miss him dearly.
OWEGO, N.Y. — "I was on, hang on, on the last call with him. I got to talk to him prior to him going into the house,” said Lt. Lee Dunham, Porcari’s uncle and Owego Fire Department. “It kind of helps me to know that he was there with me and I was there to support him and I know he’s in a better place right now."
For family and friends of fallen Owego firefighter Matthew Porcari, the pain of losing him is still fresh.
"I can’t even put into words the sadness that I feel. Matt was my adopted son, we used to kid back and forth, I can’t even put into words,” said Rita Carr, Porcari’s coworker.
The captain died when a floor collapsed beneath him while responding to a fire on Chamberlain Road in Newark Valley Monday night.
On Saturday, the community came together to honor the fallen firefighter at Owego Middle School.
"It’s not going to be easy, but it’s something we need to do, pay our respects and we’re going to miss him,” said John Tiffany, Porcari’s friend.
Some remember Porcari as a young boy… part of a team.
"My son played ball with him through Little League and high school. He’s always been a good kid, he died too young, but doing what he loved,” said Don Hill, Owego resident.
Others remember him as a coworker; always giving back to those around him.
"He just lightened up the day. We had good times, even though we had work to do it was just enjoyable to have him on the wall with you laying brick or block. He was one in a million,” said Ryan Anderson, Porcari’s friend and coworker.
Carr added, "Walking in here and seeing all these people is so typical of Matt, because he touched so many hearts."
Those who watched him grow into an adult say he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, becoming a firefighter. A brotherhood that brought him joy. A brotherhood that's brought people from around the country to Owego.
"I just talked to two firefighters from Los Angeles, California who came here. One man was originally from New York, but he said he felt like he needed to be here to support his fallen brother,” said Dunham. “So that makes you feel pretty good knowing that someone form the West Coast made is all the way out to New York just to honor his respects for a fallen brother."
Friends say they learned a lot from how Porcari lived his life, never taking one day for granted.
Porcari's uncle Lee Dunham will read his eulogy during the funeral services.
It will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 at the Owego Middle School. Stay with YNN for continuing coverage all weekend long.