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Syracuse community welcomes home fire chief after injury, months in hospital
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Syracuse community welcomes home fire chief after injury, months in hospital

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Eric Fass had a big smile on his face Saturday morning.

The chief of the Syracuse Fire Department, who was critically injured in a July livestock incident, was finally able to return home this weekend after months in the hospital and multiple surgeries. There to greet him Saturday morning were family friends and fellow members of the fire department and rescue squad, who put together a homecoming parade outside of Fass' home.

"It was a great turnout, and we're just happy to have Eric home," said Christa Reisdorff, a member of the Syracuse Rescue Service and family friend who has helped organize multiple events to support the family in recent months. "Everybody heals a little better when they're in their own element. We're just really proud of how much work he's put into getting better and getting back home."

Fass, the head of the volunteer fire department in the Otoe County town, suffered a severe head injury July 24 after a loud noise spooked a nearby cow at the county fair. As he attempted to control the animal, Fass fell and hit his head on a curb.

While he's still having trouble speaking and needs assistance with daily activities, he was clearly happy and thankful to see his friends and fellow volunteers as he waved from outside his house.

Reisdorff said it's been uplifting to see the community come together and support Fass, his wife, Amanda, and their three kids over the past few months. In addition to daily encouragement, community members have donated meals, taken care of the family's farm and completed renovations at the home to make it handicap-accessible.

"Small towns are like that," said fellow volunteer firefighter Schuylar Argo. "Anytime they've needed something, we've tried to help them out and others have as well. He's our brother. No matter what, we're going to be there for him."

Kody Cardinal, who is also a member of the volunteer fire department, said it was good to see Fass in person for the first time since the accident.

"I think it's a huge step now that he's home and not just laying in a hospital bed," Cardinal said. "He looks good — smiling, giving thumbs-up, laughing. He's a fighter."

Reisdorff said Fass will need continued in-home care with the help of his wife, but he should continue to get stronger.

"No matter what their new normal is, they're ready to take it on however they can," Reisdorff said. "He'll get to see his kids grow up, and just having him around for Christmas will be great."

Syracuse fire chief remains hospitalized as community rallies around family
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Weekend editor

Alex Lantz is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has had various roles at the Journal Star since 2012. He currently manages the news section on weekends and oversees the internship program.

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