Local Firefighter Killed in Freak Accident

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 A family Father’s Day and birthday trip turned tragic on Friday, June 17, when FDNY Firefighter Casey Skudin of Rockaway’s Ladder 137 was killed in a freak accident.

The Skudin family was on their latest adventure in North Carolina last week, a trip Casey Skudin had planned as a Father’s Day and birthday getaway. The firefighter would have turned 46 on Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day. But tragedy struck two days before as the family, including Casey, his wife, Angela, and their two kids, Ben, 19, and CJ, 10, were driving their SUV near the entrance to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina when high winds caused a large chunk of a tree to snap. In that instant, ever the hero, Casey attempted to swerve the car away, only to take the brunt of the hit by the falling tree. Casey Skudin died instantly. Ben sustained minor scratches. CJ was hospitalized with a partially collapsed lung and back injuries. And Angela watched as her life changed in an instant. Sharing with other news outlets her words in those final moments, Angela told Casey, “He was the best,” before removing his wedding ring and placing it on her own finger.

In the hours and days after the unthinkable tragedy, Angela Skudin, who owns The Codfish Cowboy shop in Long Beach, took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the tragedy and losing her husband. “For 20 years this man loved me, and I loved him. Casey was the best friend, best father, best husband. He was my everything. Unfortunately, our vehicle was struck by a tree on the property of the Biltmore Estate at 3:47pm, Casey didn’t make it. I’m completely numb and heartbroken,“ Angela shared just hours after the incident on June 17.

The next day, Angela reflected on her husband’s final actions to spare his family from the brunt of the falling tree and said, “Casey Skudin you were the sh**! You were a noble, brave, damn handsome, smart, responsible man and in my eyes, YOU WERE IT. All I ever wanted. All I could ever ask for in a partner, lover, father, friend…what does grief feel like to me? It feels like my lungs and heart have been taken from my chest and only an empty hole remains.”

Skudin was a Long Beach resident, but also called a Rockaway firehouse home. A member of the FDNY for 16 years, Skudin spent much of that time working for Ladder 137 at the Engine 268/ Ladder 137 Firehouse on Beach 116th Street. Skudin was a decorated firefighter, having earned FDNY medals on more than one occasion for his help in water rescues on the beach and for helping Rockaway’s neighbors during Hurricane Sandy. He was described as an adventurer, a surfer, a coach, a Cross Fit enthusiast, a triathlete, a lifeguard, and an overall good person and dad. When Angela’s older son, Ben, turned 18 last year, Casey officially signed adoption papers to adopt Ben as his own.

Casey was also cousins with the crew who runs the Skudin Surf School in Rockaway and Long Beach. On Sunday, Skudin Surf shared some reflections on this devastating loss to their family. “No words can ease the loss we bear; You went to heaven too soon in this tragic unthinkable accident, leaving behind tears and pain for so many. Your family, FDNY brothers and sisters, Town Of Hempstead Lifeguards, your CrossFit people, and many friends from all over Long Island loved you. Today would have been your birthday and Father's Day. May God rest your kind loving soul Casey Skudin. You were the Rock to your wife Angela and two sons Ben and CJ.  Our hearts are broken just thinking of the journey ahead without you but please know Long Beach loves you,” a post on social media read.

In the days after his death, Skudin Surf set up a memorial on the Long Beach boardwalk, asking those who knew Casey to write memories on surfboards on display, as well as bring photos to hang up.

The Long Beach community will continue to hold memorials for Skudin. A wake will be held Thursday, June 23 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Towers Funeral Home Inc., 2681 Long Beach Rd, Oceanside, NY. The FDNY Ceremonial Unit will conduct a funeral ceremony at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 24 at Towers Funeral Home. The family requests that those who attend these services, not wear black clothing.

 A memorial paddle out will be held on Sunday, June 26 at 9 a.m. at Lido West Beach in Lido Beach. This wll be followed by a celebration of life at Ted's in Point Lookout at 11:30 a.m. The FDNY Foundation has established The Firefighter Casey E. Skudin's Children's Scholarship Fund. Donations can be made in Skudin’s name to the FDNY Foundation (9 Metrotech Center, Room #5E-6, Brooklyn) or online at FDNYFoundation.org (scroll to the Casey Skudin Fund on the donation page).

A local candle light vigil will also be held outside of Engine 268/ Ladder 137 on Beach 116th Street on Monday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. In the meantime, the firehouse has set up a memorial for Casey with his gear, and the flag outside hangs at half-staff.

Family friends have started a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the Skudin family during this unimaginably tough time. Donations can be made at: www.gofundme.com/f/casey-skudin

 By Katie McFadden

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