Funeral services were held Sunday for West Webster firefighter and past Chief Mike Chiapperini, killed in the line of duty on Christmas Eve. Thousands from across the country gathered at Webster Schroeder High School to say goodbye and pay their respects to Chiapperini, a lieutenant with and public information officer for the Webster police department. Casey Bortnick has more.
WEBSTER, N.Y. -- A husband, a father, a "born first responder" and a hero. That's how Lt. Mike Chiapperini was remembered during an emotional service Sunday at Webster Schroeder High School.
Thousands of fire, police and EMS personal stood in formation to honor Lt. Chiapperini. Most of them filed past the flag draped casket with their hats over their hearts in the school's auditorium. Chiapperini, or "Chip" as he was called by his friends, was eulogized by colleagues in both the Webster Police Department and the West Webster Fire Department, many who considered Chiapperini a mentor, were grief stricken they needed a little help getting through it.
Sgt. Dennis Kohlmeier said, "I'm gonna miss having instant access to his advice."
"The days of mourning will be few when compared to the many years of happy times that we had with him," said brother-in-law Dane Erich. “In these days where perhaps the word hero is over used. Remember these names Chiapperini, Kaczowka, Hofstetter and Scardino. These guys are the real deal."
Chiapperini's wife, Kimberly, requested we not record her comments as she thanked the community for all the love and support she and her family have been shown. She thanked the first responders in the room and in words of comfort, reminded everyone he died doing what he loved. She also asked all those who want to honor Chiapperini's memory to do so by volunteering in their community.
Chiapperini leaves behind his son, Nicholas, and daughters, Kacie and Kylie, and as you saw, a large extended family.