WESTLAND (WWJ) – A crowd of hundreds lined the funeral procession route Monday morning to pay their final respects to a lost hero: Wayne-Westland firefighter Brian Woehlke, who died last week in the line of duty.
A helicopter flew overhead of the procession, lined with police cars, officers in full salute as the flag-draped casket proceeded down Ford Road in front of Westland City Hall. Russell Wellday, Wohelker’s youth baseball coach, was overcome with emotion.
“You never know if you’re going to see your family again. If people realize what these people give for their country and their community … It’s just amazing,” Wellday said. “We owe this and more to that family.”
A funeral mass for Woehlke, 29, was held earlier in the morning at Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn, followed by the procession to nearby St. Hedwig Cemetery.
Meantime, U.S. flags were order lowered to half-staff at state buildings across Michigan on Monday in honor of Woehlke, who Gov. Rick Snyder said is an example of the brave men and women who work to protect out communities every day. Woehlke leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, and 13-month-old daughter, Ava.
Wayne-Westland Fire Captain Kevin Tomaszewski is among those who have been helping to raise money to help Woehlke’s family.
“We really appreciate the community’s support.It’s been wonderful and uplifting to all of our guys in this tough time,” Tomaszewski told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.
Contributions to the “Brian Woehlke Charity” may be made to the Westland Fire Fighters Charity, P.O. Box 851320, Westland, MI 48185, or may be delivered to any of five Wayne-Westland fire stations.
Those who wish to donate online can do so via PayPal at this link. Woehlke is said to be the first firefighter in Westland to die in the line of duty.