MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Noah Cruz, 12, wore his father’s white, FDNY dress hat at the funeral for his dad Tuesday at Saint Francis of Xavier Church in Manhattan.
FDNY Lt. Robert Cruz, 44, died suddenly last week after getting sick at home and being rushed to the hospital. The cause of death has not been released yet.
His son wanted New Yorkers to know his father “was a great person, and he always tried his best to save people’s lives.”
Noah Cruz said he wore his father’s hat, “because it means that he’s always with me.”
Robert Cruz was a 16 year member of the FDNY who served for many years at Engine Company 301 in Queens, fondly known as the Hollis Hogs. After his promotion to lieutenant, Robert Cruz worked with Battalion 7. The firefighter was recently on desk duty after suffering a leg injury.
He also left behind his new wife, Lauren, and 9-month-old baby girl, Lydia, along with his parents and siblings.
Robert Cruz’ funeral was held at Saint Francis of Xavier because he attended high school here on West 16th Street, playing for the football and baseball teams.
It’s been a painful period for the Fire Department, which has lost at least six, active members since Dec. 3.
Jesse Gerhard, 33, was on duty at his Far Rockaway firehouse when he collapsed at work and died on Feb. 16 the day before Robert Cruz died. Gerhard had fought a two-alarm fire the day before he died.
Gerhard’s cause of death is still pending autopsy results from the Medical Examiner’s office. A wake for Gerhard was held in Islip, Long Island Tuesday, and his funeral is set for Wednesday.
Robert Cruz’s mother, Nadine, spoke to PIX11 News after the funeral Mass.
“We’ve been losing a lot of brothers. I pray for those families,” she said.
She added that her son “loved his FDNY brothers.”
“There’s such camaraderie,” she said.
Even though Robert Cruz did not technically receive a “line of duty” funeral, the turnout for his service was tremendous.
Trucks representing Engine Company 301 and Battalion 7 lined Sixth Avenue. An FDNY ceremonial truck carried the firefighter’s casket. Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh attended the funeral along with numerous chiefs.