Terre Haute remembers the life of fallen firefighter

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) –Family, friends and colleauges of John Schoffstall said their final farewells from their cars in the West Vigo High School parking lot, where the memorial service was held.

Joel Thacker, Indiana State Fire Marshal, said the coronavirus has caused them to rearrange the way they normally conduct memorial services.

“COVID-19, this terrible virus, has robbed us of two things here today. John’s life, which was cut short and the ability to celebrate John in a traditional way,” Thacker said.

Schoffstall was sworn in as a Terre Haute Firefighter in May 2009. He would have celebrated 12 years of service next month.

Terre Haute Fire Chief, Jeff Fisher, said the veteran firefighter dedicated his life to helping others.

“Right away I could tell John had a servant’s heart. His interaction with his fellow firefighters and people of our community was apparent that he truly cared,” Fisher said.

Residents of Terre Haute and surrounding areas also attended the memorial service to pay their respects to the fallen firefighter.

Ernie Forster said he’s known the Schoffstall family for several years.

“This is just a hard time. I know his dad really well and his mother. I grew up with them. John just gave so much to our community,” he expressed. “I just feel like it’s important that we let the family know, how much we care and how much we appreciate them as a family.”

John Schoffstall was awarded two posthumous awards, the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Meritorious award and the Paramedic Emeritus award from the Indiana State Council of EMS.

Fisher said it’s now up to those that knew and loved John Schoffstall to keep his legacy alive.

“The next few days, weeks, months will be difficult. There will be times when someone will say something, someone will do something and it’ll remind you of john. Continue to carry on his name and his memory will live on in each and every story.”

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