A Hero ‘in Every Sense of the Word': Yadira Arroyo Honored by Thousands of Friends, Colleagues at Funeral

The 14-year veteran EMT was killed by her own hijacked ambulance in the Bronx

What to Know

  • Thousands attended the funeral of slain EMT Yadira Arroyo at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church in the Bronx.
  • Arroyo was killed in the Bronx on March 16 when a man hijacked her ambulance and ran her over with it, police said
  • Mayor de Blasio said the loss of "Yadi" continues to reverberate throughout the city.

Thousands of family, friends and FDNY colleagues gathered Saturday to remember an EMT who was killed by a hijacked ambulance, remembering her as a hero who leaves behind "a legacy of service and lives saved."

Among those who attended the funeral for Yadira Arroyo were Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro and her five sons. 

"I want you to know that your mother leaves behind an incredible legacy, a legacy of service and lives saved," Nigro said, addressing her children. "She touched so many in her brilliant career, we are a better department because of all she gave us and we are a greater city because of how nobly she served."

The 14-year FDNY veteran was killed March 16 after she and her partner tried to stop the 25-year-old from hijacking the ambulance they were riding in. Police say the hijacker put the ambulance in reverse, ran over Arroyo, then went forward, dragging her into an intersection.

At St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church in the University Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, the roll of snare drums rang through the street as an FDNY marching band solemnly strolled through.

Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" as nine FDNY officers delicately removed Arroyo's casket, draped in an American flag, and carried it into the church as her family followed behind. 

Yadira Arroyo died a hero when she tried to stop a thief who hopped into her ambulance as the veteran EMT was on her way to a call Thursday, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Erica Byfield reports.

Arroyo's partner, Monique Williams, sobbed as she took the podium. The heartbroken EMT was so overcome with emotion that she was unable to read a passage and instead deferred to a colleague who took the stage with her as she bowed her head, her body shaking as she cried.

The mayor offered his condolences to her five sons -- Edgar, Isaiah, Jose, Justin and Kenneth -- and sympathized with their loss; he also lost his father at around the same age as Arroyo's sons. 

"When you lose your parent, it's a current that runs through you your entire life," he said. "The hearts of our city are broken today because we have to say goodbye to someone who was there for all of us."

Thousands of family, friends and colleagues of slain FDNY emergency medical technician Yadira Arroyo packed into a funeral home in the Bronx to say their final goodbyes.

He said the loss of "Yadi" continues to reverberate throughout the city.

Nigro said: "Most of all, she was a hero. She died as a hero, but most importantly, she lived as one. In every sense of the word, she was a true hero to our city."

He told her sons that although they may not be blood, but the department would always be one call away.

"You now have thousands more brothers and sisters who will support you and stand by your side. Never forget that."

After the court hearing for Jose Gonzalez, the suspect in the ambulance hijacking that killed EMT Yadira Arroyo in the Bronx, EMTs and representatives were emotional and angry. The lawyer for Gonzalez also spoke, though EMTs reacted angrily. 

Jose Montez fondly recalled the times he spent in the kitchen with his mother learning how to cook as the eyes of his family and thousands of Yadi's colleagues were affixed on him.

There were many lessons his mother taught him, including "how to make things taste good," but the most important one was learning how to listen.

"My mother wasn't perfect, but she was excellent," he said. "On top of every other lesson she taught me, she taught me how to listen."

[NY ONLY SPEC PHOTOS] Members of FDNY Pay Tribute to Fallen EMT Yadira Arroyo

He paused for a moment before diving into a memory about how both always wanted to have the last word, which drew quiet laughter. Before he stepped down from the podium, he reminded all that their unity served as a pillar of strength.

"We'll all be okay because we have each other."

The New York Mets honored Arroyo at a Friday night spring training game against the Atlanta Braves.

The New York Yankees provided free parking for those attending her funeral and hosted a post-funeral meal at Yankee Stadium's Great Hall, the Daily News reported. About 5,000 cars and buses were expected to park in the ballpark lot.

A 44-year-old mother of five, who worked for 14 years at FDNY EMS station no. 26 in the Bronx, was mowed down by her own hijacked ambulance while she and her partner were on their way to a job. Marc Santia reports.

The man accused of killing her, Jose Gonzalez, is behind bars. His attorney says he's severely mentally ill.

In a show of force, mourning members of the FDNY packed the Bronx Criminal Courthouse Wednesday for Gonzalez's hearing, which he skipped.

Gonzalez has 31 prior arrests and four prior misdemeanors on his record, authorities say. He faces murder, manslaughter and robbery charges.

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