Second life taken away: Firefighter who rescued Atio in 2005 heartbroken over his death

Images from Lords Ramos Hernandez's Facebook account
  • Firefighter who saved UST law freshman more than a decade ago grieving over his death
  • He said hazing took away victim’s second shot at life after they saved him from fire in 2005
  • He also recounted encounter with Atio and his family back when they were rescued

MANILA, Philippines – One of the firefighters who rescued Horacio “Atio” Castillo and his family from a fire in Paco, Manila more than a decade ago expressed grief over his death; saying the fratmen who hazed him needlessly took away his second shot at life.

“It was very saddening because the boy was already living his second life,” Lords Ramos Hernandez told Rappler. “I don’t understand why this has to happen.”

It was Hernandez who posted pictures of their rescue of the Castillo family back in 2005 on his Facebook account. The post came with a poignant caption pointing to the bitter irony of his death 12 years later.

“Its so heartbreaking to think that the 10 year old kid that WE RESCUED in a residential fire that happened in Paco, Manila way back Dec. 7, 2005 became a victim of a fatal hazing…” he wrote.

Then a rookie fireman, Hernandez —now a fire officer 2 and Engine officer-in-charge of Gagalangin Fire Station in Tondo— recounted his encounter with the Castillo family during their rescue operation.

“Na-trap sila doon sa taas ng roof deck na iyon. Sa second floor sila nakatira. Di sila makababa,” he recalled. “Then ang nangyari, si Horacio Jr., iyong tatay, umakyat doon sa may fence ng roof, dala-dala niya ang bata.”

[They were trapped in the roof deck. They were living in the second floor. They couldn’t go down. Then what happened, is that the father climbed over the fence of the roof and carried the child with him.]

Hernandez also explained the pictures they took of Castillo and his family were supposed to serve as a memento of a successful rescue which unfortunately had been blackened by his death at the hands of members of Aegis Juris fraternity.

“Every fire rescue kasi is an achievement not by myself but also of the whole fire department, so important sa aming mga firemen iyan [it’s important to us firemen],” he said.