PHOENIX - Hundreds of firefighters across the Phoenix metro area gathered Saturday to remember a 16-year Phoenix Fire Department veteran who died Monday.
Mark Carter collapsed during lunch with three other firefighters and died despite their efforts to revive him. Officials were still figuring out what caused Carter's death, but say it is likely related to cardiac problems.
The 53-year-old was remembered Saturday for his sense of humor and dedication to community service.
"Mark was a good man with a quick smile," Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan said.
During Carter's funeral, his friends and family spoke about his love of basketball and giant Thirst Buster drinks. They said Carter, who was the oldest person in his class at the training academy, never let age stand in his way.
"It will not be the same without him, but we will never forget him," said Captain Brian Nalley, Carter's best friend and supervisor.
Phoenix Fire Department Division Chief Mike Sandulak said Carter's death has been tough for Phoenix firefighters. About 20 sought grief counseling Monday at Mayo Clinic Hospital as they waited to usher Carter's body to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office.
"He was one of those guys who just comes to work every day ... just did a solid job every day, every shift," Sandulak said.
Carter is survived by his wife - who Nalley said was the love of Carter's life - a daughter and a stepdaughter.