Funeral arrangements made for 2 veteran firefighters killed at Port Newark

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, July 7, 2023
Flags half-staff in New Jersey for 2 veteran firefighters killed at Port Newark
Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks Jr., 49, were both killed in the fire Wednesday night at Port Newark. Crystal Cranmore has more.

PORT NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Funeral arrangements have been made for the two Newark firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice when they lost their lives while battling a cargo ship fire in Port Newark.

Flags are flying at half-staff in New Jersey for Newark firefighters Augusto "Augie" Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr., who will be laid to rest next week.

The viewing for Acabou will take place Wednesday evening at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark followed by his funeral on Thursday morning. The viewing for Brooks, Jr. will take place Thursday night at the same church followed by his funeral on Friday morning.

President Joe Biden called the families of the two fallen Newark firefighters, and extended a future invitation to the White House. Gov. Phil Murphy visited Newark on Thursday to pay his respects in person.

One by one Friday, friends and family stepped forward at Newark Firefighters Union headquarters to speak -- many through tears -- about fallen Newark firefighters Augusto "Augie" Acabou and Wayne Brooks, Jr.

The Newark Firefighters Union holds a news conference to discuss the lives and legacies of Augusto "Augie" Acabou and Wayne "Bear" Brooks, Jr.

Acabou, 45, was a nine-year veteran and assigned to Engine 16 in the East Ferry neighborhood. He was described as ambitious. His body was tragically discovered by his cousin who is also a Newark firefighter.

Brooks, Jr., 49, was a 16-year veteran and assigned to Ladder 4 in the South Ironbound neighborhood. He was described as someone with a big personality who was always smiling.

Union Vice President, Eddie Paulo, was a childhood friend of Acabou.

"They don't make him like him, he was tough as nails and sweet beyond belief," he said.

Paulo said Acabou is survived by his two brothers who work in the Clark Police Department, two parents, a sister-in-law, and his nephew, James.

"He was an amazing friend, an amazing colleague, that guy that walked away from any drama, that guy that brought a light to any somber moment," Paulo said.

Capt. Carlos Henriques, Acabou's cousin and a fellow Newark firefighter, read a statement from the family in which they said his loss "left a hole in our home." And that, "He was our hero who we will continue to miss every day and love forever."

Roger Terry spoke about his nephew, Wayne Brooks, Jr. and how close they were. Brooks' wife and two daughters sobbed as he was remembered.

"Very close family, many of my children are the same age as Wayne, I look at him not just as my nephew, but he's like my son," Terry said.

"Wayne wanted to be a firefighter all of his life, he came out number one in his class," he added. Interestingly, in high school, Brooks was one of the top fencers in the state.

"He could have had any job he wanted in this region but he picked being a firefighter because he liked helping people and working with people," he said. "Our hearts are broken. But as I indicated, as a family we'll keep moving on. We're close knit, we'll work together."

"Bear was an amazing person, great leader, great friend, great brother, loved his family, loved the job, very tough time, very tough time for us," said Firefighter Michael Johnson, of Ladder 4. "Wayne was a son with a wonderful family, the way he cooked the way he helped out, he was amazing, understatement, amazing."

Like Brooks, Acabou was also a young athlete, playing football at East Side High School in Newark. He learned last winter that a former coach had been diagnosed with cancer, and he jumped at the chance to help, taking him to the store for groceries or getting them himself.

"We only just learned about that this week," Henriques said. "Those were the little things Augie did for the people in his life. It was just the kind of person he was."

Henriques called the loss "unfathomable."

A GoFundMe set up for the families has raised more than $21,000 so far.

Five firefighters were also injured. Three Newark firefighters suffered various injuries and have since been released from the hospital.

Captain David Rogers, 44, is a 17-year veteran who suffered a burn to his foot. He was treated at the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Captain Michael Spadavecchia, 38, a 10-year veteran suffered heat exhaustion. He had been under observation at University Hospital in Newark.

Captain Richard Cooper, 55, is a 17-year veteran. He was treated for respiratory distress and possible smoke inhalation.

And two Elizabeth firefighters were also being treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

Michael Giunta, President of the Newark Firefighters Union, and the other firefighters who spoke said Friday was to remember their fallen brothers. Their questions about what happened -- and there are many -- will wait for another day.

"At a later date, all of that is going to be answered," promised Giunta, his voice filling with anger. "Because, like you have questions, I've got a lot of questions, and I want answers. That's going to happen in a later date. But for right now, let's really focus on the families and helping them get through things."

"We are forever with their families," Giunta continued. "I pledge to his daughters and have all this support behind you."

RELATED | 2 firefighters killed, 5 injured battling cargo ship fire at Port Newark

Derick Waller has the latest on the Thursday morning fire at Port Newark, NJ, where two firefighters were killed and five injured.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New Jersey news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.

The fire after they became trapped while fighting a fire on

The fire broke out in five to seven cars on the 11th and 12th floors of a ship that was carrying about 5,000 vehicles.