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Sterling community fills the streets for fallen firefighter's procession

Lt. Garrett Ramos died in the line of duty while fighting a fire Friday night in Rock Falls.

STERLING, Ill. — The city of Sterling, Illinois. honored fallen hero Lt. Garrett Ramos with a procession following his death Friday night.

The Sterling Fire Department responded to an eight-alarm fire Friday, Dec. 3  in Rock Falls. Ramos was among the crew who fought the blaze. Sterling Police Chief Alex Chavira said the floor of the burning home had collapsed beneath Ramos before he died.

This is the first death in the line of duty for the Sterling Fire Department. Ramos leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Ramos was 38 years old and had spent 10 years with the department.

Hundreds of community members on Saturday, Dec. 4 lined the streets of Sterling during a procession in support of Ramos' family, friends and community following his death. The sea of blue and red lights started at CGH Medical Center, passed the Sterling Fire Department on West 5th Street and ended at McDonald Funeral Home.

"They feel the loss, whether they knew him or not," Concha Sitter, family friend, said. "It's a loss of one of our own, and it'll live on forever."

Ramos was a second-generation firefighter for Sterling, following his father's footsteps. City officials described Ramos as brave and dedicated.

"He was the face of the future for the Sterling Fire Department. He was being groomed as the leading candidate to be our next Sterling fire chief," Scott Shumard, Sterling city manager, said.

Sitter said the community is shaken by the tragic incident and will never forget Ramos or his charming spirit.

"He was really loved by the community. He would always have a smile on his face," said Sitter.

A family member of Ramos said he was in awe by the amount of support from community members.

"There were people lined up and it brought tears to my eyes to see that. He was very loved," cousin Dolores Montanez- Blais said. "When tragedy happens, we support each other, and that's just the community alone."

Retired Sterling firefighter Timothy Ries said he worked with Ramos' father and is deeply saddened by the accident. Ramos took his place in the department when he left and described him to be a great asset to the department and community.

"I've known him for a long time, ever since he was a little boy, and I worked with his father," Ries said. "He was very polite, very knowledgeable. Just an outstanding young man."

A public visitation will be 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8 at Sterling High School Fieldhouse, located at 22 East Miller Road in Sterling.

Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 at Westwood Sports Complex, located at 1900 Westwood Dr. in Sterling.

The events will include a memorial ceremony at Sterling's main fire station.