Casey Skudin spent his life saving countless lives of others.
As an FDNY firefighter, a lifeguard, a husband and father, his wife, Angela Skudin, said he saved her life at least twice, including on the day Casey Skudin was killed last week after a 2,000 pound tree crushed his family’s car while on vacation in North Carolina.
Hundreds of firefighters lined the street Friday, leading up to the Towers Funeral Home in Oceanside to remember the joyous and dedicated firefighter and family man who was taken at age 45.
After a wind event toppled the tree at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, his wife said he saved his family's lives by sacrificing his own. . Angela Skudin escaped with minor scratches and their two children Ben, 19, and C.J., 10, escaped with injuries from the crash.
“Imagine the gravity of having someone in your life that saved your own, the day you meet them, by the simple act of just meeting them. And then again the day they leave. And if I'm being completely transparent, every single day in between,” his widow said. “Casey was my everything. He was my lover, my husband, my best friend … my absolute favorite person on Earth. Imagine having a person in your life, every day making you feel safe, loved, held and protected.”
She described his affinity for travel and adventure, and his dedication to helping others.
“Because if Casey Skudin was in your orbit, your world was just simply a safer place,” she said.
Skudin was a 16-year veteran of the FDNY and valedictorian of his fire academy class, his wife said. He was assigned to Ladder Company 137 in Rockaway Beach, Queens. He was also a CrossFit coach and had been a lifeguard since he was a teenager and continuing as an adult at Lido Beach West.
The funeral had all the pageantry of an FDNY sendoff, with bagpipes and firefighter formations. It also had personal touches to pay tribute to Skudin, including lighthearted stories by his friends and family, and a band of firefighters playing songs by his favorite band, Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”
Angela Skudin said saving someone’s life became second nature, whether it was pulling someone from a riptide, giving the Heimlich maneuver to someone choking in a restaurant or performing CPR. She also described how he took care of her and their family as she battled numerous ailments, including Lyme disease.
She said he poured his life into his children, their youngest son, C.J., and welcoming their eldest Ben as a baby and eventually adopting him when he turned 18.
“He always said I was the glue. But really, I was just his mirror,” Skudin said. “He loved his sons more than anything in the world.”
Their son C.J. stood wearing a neck brace and told jokes and stories about his father, whom he resembles with the same beach tan. C.J. wants to be a firefighter and a lifeguard when he gets older, he said.
“My dad definitely was a good guy,” he said. “He was such a supportive dad.”
Casey Skudin was a leader and a jokester as a firefighter and a lifeguard, his colleagues said. Friends and colleagues signed a surfboard at the funeral home in his memory. It was put on display along with family photos and wreaths from the fire department.
Ladder 137 Firefighter Evan Davis described working at the Rockaway firehouse as it flooded while Casey Skudin talked to his wife, who was dealing with their flooded home in Long Beach.
“With his own firehouse being flooded, unsure of his family’s safety, Casey led us into the flood in Rockaway and we got everyone to safety,” Davis said. “In typical Casey Skudin fashion, we got the job done.”
Following the funeral, Skudin’s coffin was covered in the FDNY flag and placed onto a waiting Ladder 137 truck while taps played. The FDNY presented the family with a letter of condolence, and his widow was given his FDNY fire helmet.