GODFREY, Ill. - Just shy of a year after a tragedy killed one Godfrey firefighter in the line of duty, his former colleague returned to the firehouse to continue his destiny to save lives.
Luke Warner is back at the firehouse, reassured that this is where he was meant to be.
Warner is driving the truck today after what has been a long road to recovery. He's excited but reflective after the most challenging times of his life.
He was at a loss for words at times recalling the traumatizing picture of the past.
A fire broke out March 5 at 4:15 p.m. at a brick home on Culp Lane in Fosterburg.
“March 5 of last year was by far the most tragic event in this organization’s history,” Warner said.
A 21-foot wall came crashing down, taking the life of Captain Jake Ringering and injuring three other firefighters. Warner was one of them. Both of his legs were broken.
“His loss was beyond anything we would ever fathom happening,” Warner said. “I’ve never not been ready to come back mentally, it was just the physical part of it.”
After five surgeries, about 100 physical therapy sessions, and time to cope with the loss of a friend, he returned to the Godfrey Fire Protection District to protect and serve.
“Hopefully, it’s kind of the first day of getting back to some normalcy,” Warner said.
Warner hung up his suit and talked with colleagues, back in a familiar building with a deeper sense of purpose.
“Every time I’ve asked that question, God said absolutely come back,” Warner said.
Warner said he’s got quite a few years until he’s done. He said his faith lead him back to his lifelong dream.
He sat behind the wheel wearing a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero.
“I’ll never get over that day and I don’t want to because that day has forever changed so many people,” Warner said.