Norwich – School buses departed from the Norwich Free Academy campus this afternoon and quickly were replaced by fire trucks and other emergency vehicles as hundreds of uniformed emergency responders from throughout Connecticut, Norwich officials, family, friends and well-wishers crowded into Alumni Gymnasium to remember Norwich firefighter Benjamin De Mond.
De Mond, 33, was killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 395 in Montville late Friday. His two young children, also in the vehicle, remain hospitalized.
Mourners entered the new Slater Museum atrium along a walkway lined with flags held by members of several local military and emergency services support organizations, including the Patriot Guard Riders, the New London Motorcycle Club and Fire Riders Connecticut.
Firefighters representing dozens of departments from across the state attended; the New London Firefighters Pipes and Drum band played tributes.
The Rev. Cal Lord said De Mond loved his two sons, loved his family and his Norwich Fire Department family.
"He would go to the wall for any of them," Lord said.