Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul has been farewelled by his pregnant wife and dozens of colleagues following his death fighting an out-of-control bushfire last month.
The expectant father, 28, was killed when the truck he and his crew were travelling in was flipped over by cyclonic winds in a freak weather event as they fought the Green Valley Fire, 70km east of Albury near the Victorian border, on December 30.
Mr McPaul’s widow Megan accepted a bravery medal on behalf of her husband from NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at his funeral at Holbrook Sports Stadium on Friday.
Uniformed firefighters carried in his helmet as dozens of friends and family watched on alongside a large number of emergency service personnel.
His funeral was held inside the sports hall where he regularly played basketball and “loved to be”, senior chaplain Ian Spall said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian were also in attendance.
Today we have farewelled #NSWRFS volunteer Samuel McPaul who died while fighting the Green Valley bush fire at Jingelic last month. Samuel’s wife Megan has been presented with a Commissioner’s Commendation for Service and a Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery. pic.twitter.com/W8HkwEqt5e— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 17, 2020
"It's so difficult to comprehend the loss of Sam and none of us can be in your shoes at this difficult time," Mr Fitzsimmons said to Megan in his address.
"Our hearts are breaking with you."
Mr McPaul was the third NSW volunteer firefighter to die this bushfire season.
Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, died on December 19 when a tree hit their tanker as they were travelling southwest of Sydney.
Albury RFS district manager Patrick Westwood told reporters after Mr McPaul's death he was "a beautiful young man" who was fully equipped and trained and doing everything right when the incident occurred.
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