Austin was instantly liked by anyone who met him. People were drawn to his gentle demeanor, fun personality, and easygoing manner. In Austin’s school career he played AAU baseball and football and received an award for Most Improved Player for both sports. Growing up, Austin and his sister, Sierra, shared a special bond and were not only siblings but best friends. His love for Mustangs was eventually surpassed by his love for trucks and his Ford F-150. As an adult he enjoyed playing Xbox, spending time with friends and family, kayaking at the springs, and going to theme parks. Austin valued family and was always close to home for dinner, to visit after shift, or to help his mom. He loved all the holiday traditions and playing games around the dining room table.
Austin found his calling at an early age, joining the Explorers in high school. After high school, he completed both Standards and EMT and joined the Apopka Fire Department at the height of COVID in July 2020. He continued his service and education, taking 700+ hours of training over the next year and a half. He was so excited when he passed the class to be a relief driver for the engine. He regarded the people he worked with not as coworkers but as brothers and sisters, and the AFD soon became his second family. Austin was tragically injured while on duty on June 30, 2022, and succumbed to his injuries two weeks later on July 15, 2022, at the age of 25.
His passing brought to light several issues within the department. Found posthumously, Austin wrote a letter where, in his words, he envisioned a fire department culture dedicated to enhanced training and mentorship. His aspiration was to nurture an environment where seeking help is embraced, fostering a collective drive toward comprehensive improvement. This generated many changes in the Apopka Fire Department and is the basis of the 2650 Foundation. Named after his ID number at the AFD, the foundation was created to extend and offer training, education, and mentorship to other firefighters.
Austin has left an undeniable impact that will live on in all our hearts and souls. Austin’s parents, Mike and Gail, and his sister, Sierra, are here today. Rest easy, Austin. We will take it from here.