SILSBEE - It was a somber day at the Silsbee High School auditorium. Hundreds of people paid their respect to fallen Silsbee firefighter Jay Hinkie.
A driver hit and killed Hinkie while he was responding to the scene of a rollover crash on FM 418.
“He was the first one in. He was there in the midst of storms in the lives of people,” Fred Raney, a retired chaplain and public information officer with Silsbee Fire & Rescue said during the service.
Beforehand, Raney shared one of many fond memories he had of Hinkie.
"Kids would come up after doing fire prevention in school, in Walmart, Brookshire Brothers, little kids would come up and grab around the leg and parents had no idea who he was,” Raney said.
“The parents look and we’ll explain, ‘I do fire prevention at school that's how they know me!’ But he was a great guy," Raney said.
Serving as a firefighter meant Hinkie had a second family of volunteers and first responders.
Silsbee Fire & Rescue Chief Robin Jones gave the Hinkie family one of his helmets he wore on the job.
Other first responders like Jon Clingaman, operations manager of Acadian Ambulance Southeast Texas worked with Hinkie for years.
He feels that Hinkie would want the community to be strong in this time of mourning.
"Jay would want the community to pull together and just be strong and work through the star that his family, that the community is facing, and carry on his legacy of being selfless," Clingaman said.
Raney believed that sharing funny stories of Hinkie was an important part of the service.
"I hope the family will leave here today knowing that the community loves them, their husband their dad their grandfather, and will just see that and be encouraged by that," Raney said.
During the service, it was announced that Hinkie’s heart was donated. A scholarship fund is set up in Hinkie’s name.
Raney tells 12 News that there are plans to retire Hinkie’s number.
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