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"If there were more citizens like Eddie, we'd have a much sweeter world" | West Volunteer Firefighters remember Eddie Hykel

Those close to Eddie Hykel described the 16-year-veteran as a seasoned firefighter that made everyone feel safe.

WEST, Texas — Members of the West Volunteer Fire Department are once again dealing with a pain they are all too familiar with -- the loss of one of their own.

The tragic crash that killed 60-year-old Edward "Eddie" Hykel on Tuesday comes nearly 10 years after the department lost 12 members in the fertilizer plant explosion.

Members of the fire department were in and out of the station Wednesday as the spent time working, but also grieving the loss of their friend, brother, and safety net on the scene.

"We're very sad, he's gonna be missed greatly," said John Hurtick. "There's so many things that he did for so many people, that we're going to be missing now. It's very sad that he's not here."

Hurtick was Hykel's neighbor and brought him on the fire department 16 years ago. He told 6 News Hykel is the true spirit of the West Volunteer Fire Department and that is something they will work to carry on.

"Eddie is a survivor of our blast almost 10 years ago and he set a true example after that blast because he was right back into service and continued to do all the things that he did to make the West Fire Department a true service to the community," he explained. "We will hope that Eddie's example, will inspire some of our youth here in town to come and join the department and continue his legacy."

Hykel was no stranger in the city of West. Those close to him remember him for his bright personality and his unique hat with a hole that he was never without.

"He's a great man, excellent firefighter," said Greg Picha. "He was all around. He's a man who give the shirt off his back for you and he was a character. If you didn't know who Eddie Hykel was, you ain't been around here very long because Eddie was Eddie. He's a great, great individual. We're gonna miss him."

Picha and Hurtick said Hykel was always the first on the scene and everyone always felt more safe when he was there. They described the 16 year veteran as a seasoned firefighter.

In his time with the West Volunteer Fire Department, Hykel had been awarded for responding to the most amount of calls.

West VFD would like to extend a huge thank you for the out pouring of love shown to the family of our fallen member as...

Posted by West VFD on Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Hykel's last alarm is reopening wounds for many in West. The memorial outside the fire station for the fertilizer plant explosion will now have to grow. It's a hard pill for Picha to swallow, especially as Hykel helped building the memorial.

"After the explosion, Eddie had one of our local fabricators here make this cross in honor of our fallen brothers and it's just his way he paid tribute," he said. "Just shows what kind of person he was."

All firefighters are trained to bring everyone home after a call, the member of the West Volunteer Fire Department are heartbroken a preventable crash could have allowed them to do that for Hykel.

"Slow down and move over even if it's not first responders, just construction workers, please just have a little respect," Picha added. "Slow down, move over -- that's all we can ask."

As Hykel died doing what he loved, his friends of the fire department will always work to keep his spirit alive and reflect his life motto.

"Eddie would say don't look back," Hurtick said. "Don't look back, go forward as he did after the blast. In the face of any adversity that you see -- just go forward."

"Keep moving forward, that would Eddie's word, keep moving forward," Picha added.

The National Fall Firefighters Foundation is on scene helping the family of Hykel, according to Mayor Tommy Muska.

The fire department has had support groups visit them to make sure they are getting the care they need.

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