Firefighters rally around boy injured in accident

- The Southern Manatee Fire Rescue team is more like a family, but two of its members are missing. Firefighter Brian Ross is now on shift watching over his son River, who remains in a coma at All Children's Hospital.

"To see this happen to them is heartbreaking," offered firefighter Steve Gibson. 

River is only 6 years old and he is a twin.  Last week, his mother lost control of their car in Sarasota.  She hit a tree and River fractured his skull.

"He is a very active little boy.  It's hard to see him in the condition he is now," said Gibson. 

When River's firefighter family heard about what happened, they knew they had to do something. Firefighter Rich Gatanis used Facebook to spread the word about what happened.

"We spend a third of our lives together so it's kind of like close family," he explained.  "When something happens to one person's kids, it's like happening to my own kid. I see the pictures of River and I think of my kids."

He began raising money on a GoFund Me account to help the family.  So far he has raised $18,000.

"With Facebook and social media, there is no borders.  It just goes out.  We have had a lot of great response from people about his recovery, people who don't even know him," he said.

The support system runs deep.  It is one the chief said every firefighter can count on.

"It doesn't matter what circumstance he lands in, we are going to be here. Doesn't have to be written down. Doesn't have to be any insurance out there that will cover what we will do, but we are stepping up the community is stepping up," said Battalion Chief Rick Blanco.

The firefighters will be waiting for River and his dad to once again bring their energy and laughter back to the station.

"Our prayer for him and our family is a full recovery. He is a young boy that he will bounce back we want him back to 100 percent, absolutely," said Chief Blanco.

For more information on River's condition visit: https://www.gofundme.com/yhy3fk

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