After the Burton firefighter and Marine was stricken by a medical event on Sept. 13, standing by Stuey became a promise. Firefighters, emergency personnel and law enforcement from throughout the Lowcountry accompanied a procession Friday afternoon escorting Hardy's body to Copeland Funeral Service in Beaufort from Charleston.
Hardy died Thursday at age 31 after more than a week in intensive care at Medical University of South Carolina.
From the time of the incident until Hardy is buried in Beaufort National Cemetery next week, a firefighter will have been by his side the entire time, said David Grabenbauer, Hardy's battalion chief at Burton Fire District.
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"That's the kind of attention Stuey commanded," Grabenbauer said. "He would never ask for anything, but he is absolutely the most deserving for that kind of attention."
The procession Friday included fire departments from Charleston, Colleton, Hampton and Beaufort counties. As the vehicles crossed the Whale Branch bridge about 4 p.m., trucks from Burton Fire District pulled in front off of Seabrook Road and led the way.
Hardy's brothers accompanied a ladder truck out of Burton's Grays Hill station.
The experience was humbling, Burton Fire District spokesman Dan Byrne said. He said the reality of Hardy's death had begun to set in.
"We kind of just expected him to sit up in bed one day and just come to work," Byrne said. "It's been hard on the firefighters; it's been hard on the families, but right now the focus is on Stuart and his family."
Hardy had been with the Burton Fire District since May 2014, graduating from the fire academy a year ago. After standing by on his first couple of fire calls, he had the opportunity to fight the July fire at Port Royal's seafood market.
Services for Hardy will be held next week. Visitation is 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Copeland Funeral Service. The funeral is 11 a.m. Thursday at Praise Assembly of God in Port Royal, and burial will be in Beaufort National Cemetery with military and fire department honors.
WAYS TO DONATE
There are several ways to donate money to the family of Stuart Hardy, the Burton firefighter who died Thursday after a suffering a medical event this month:
- In-person donations at any Regions Bank to the Stuart Hardy Fund
- Via paypal.com to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fat Patties has agreed to donate a portion of its proceeds after 5 p.m. on Oct. 6.
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
- Remembering Stuey: Fallen Burton firefighter lived his dream, Sept. 24, 2015