DeSoto community rallies around family after firefighter dies of stroke

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein

The DeSoto County community is mourning the loss of a firefighter. The fire-rescue department is looking to raise money for his family.

On Monday, April 15, Firefighter and EMT Brad Gregrich, 30, suffered a massive stroke. He died Saturday.

“We all kind of looked at each other like we can’t believe this,” said Robert Schmidt, with DeSoto County Fire Rescue. “He’s 30. This doesn’t happen.”

Gregrich was known as a family man.

“Brad is a father of a beautiful baby boy, James Lucas,” said Daniel O’Connor, with the fire department. “Lucas will be 1 years old next month.”

Thirteen days ago, Gregrich showed signs of ill health.

“He had gone home to his family wasn’t feeling that well, wasn’t able to walk, nauseous vomiting, constant headache,” O’Connor said.

The same night, the new father and young husband was rushed to the hospital, where he suffered a large stroke.

“We are used to running to the emergency,” Schmidt said. “We’re not used to being on the other side of it.”

The DeSoto fire department lost one of their own two years ago, with the memory of loss still fresh. So all its members rallied around Gregrich’s family while he was in the hospital.

With Gregrich’s death over the weekend, his fellow firefighters are remembering the man who was preparing to go onto paramedic school by helping his family.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to support his wife support, his [kid], the family,” Schmidt said.

DeSoto County Fire Rescue said Gregrich’s passing is considered a line-of-duty death. Soon, fire departments from all over will help with his funeral, likely in Manatee County where he grew up.

“He’s our brother,” O’Connor said. “We take care of our brothers, their family, their friends.”

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