Matthew Porcari was a firefighter, but he was also a dedicated family man and member of the Owego community. Our Elyse Mickalonis spoke with those lucky enough to call him a friend.
OWEGO, N.Y. -- Those who knew Owego resident and fallen firefighter Matthew Porcari say he was one in a million, and that his death leaves a huge hole in the heart of the community.
“His sister always calls me...I got the phone call about 2AM this morning,” said family friend Betsi Dennis Stanton, “she just said there was a fire and he had fallen through the floor and he was gone.”
A third generation firefighter, Porcari grew up in Owego and graduated from Owego Free Academy.
“Matt comes from a long line of firefighters. His grandfather was a firefighter with the Flatts, his father was a firefighter with the flats and Matt kept the tradition alive as being a Flatt rat,” said Stanton.
Friends and family members of Porcari say he was an all-American boy growing up who loved the song American Pie. They say he grew up to be a stellar husband and father to his two children and three step-children.
“They all just meshed really well together,” said friend Cindy Short, “it’s really hard to mesh families but they did it so well and they loved each other’s kids like they were their own.”
Those who knew him say they will remember Porcari's contagious laugh and big hugs.
He was one someone who dedicated his life to helping others; his own struggles with Tropical Storm Lee led him to helping others affected by flooding.
"When Sandy happened he was able to travel down to help with sandy recovery down there, with Dan Gavin, the other firefighter that was injured. He was so excited to be able to pay it back. He had been there, in their shoes and wanted them to know he understood,” said Stanton.
Short added, “He was willing to help anybody it just cam natural to him, he didn’t have to think about it, he just did it.”
Stanton says Porcari would have wanted everyone to stick together and help each other out during this time.
“I know he wouldn’t want us to be sad, he’d want us to remember him for everything he did. He died doing what he loved. He was a firefighter through and through,” said Stanton.
Porcari married his wife in July of last year after working together to rebuild their home after the flooding of 2011. Friends say despite their own troubles, he helped everyone around him rebuild.