Michigan City firefighter to be honored this weekend

 Ray Celebucki, an 18-year veteran of the Michigan City Fire Department, died this week at 49.
Ray Celebucki, an 18-year veteran of the Michigan City Fire Department, died this week at 49. (WNDU)
Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 6:20 PM EDT
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A Michigan City firefighter who passed away earlier this week will be honored this weekend.

Ray Celebucki served 18 years in Michigan City.

He was one of the people who assisted in the rescue of a young boy at Mount Baldy nearly three years ago.

Those who knew him say Celebucki dealt with his share of personal struggles, including cancer.

Ray passed away on Monday at 49.

Fellow firefighters say Ray left a lasting impact and a family in illinois says it's because of Celebucki and fellow first responders that their son is alive today.

This week, Michigan City's fire department is mourning one its own following the death of 18-year firefighter Ray Celebucki.

“He's gone through a lot. More than anybody needs to go through. He lost his mother, he lost his brother, he lost his sister, all in maybe a two-year span,” Michigan City Fire Department public information officer Tony Drzewiecki said.

Despite overcoming a recent bout with cancer, those who worked with Ray remember his love for kids and animals, going so far as to spearhead an effort to secure lifesaving equipment for pets on every truck.

“And Ray made sure we all received the training, and anytime we had questions or anything, Ray was the go-to person to help us out,” Drzewiecki said.

Celebucki was on the scene nearly three years ago when a young boy became trapped in the sand while hiking near Mount Baldy.

“I remember being so afraid that they would stop looking for him, that they'd give up because they were working so hard and it looked like they were getting nowhere,” Nathan’s mother Faith Woessner said.

Those on scene will never forget the hours' worth of digging in the sand, trying to free young Nathan Woessner.

“I would think if you were to ask them that if they were ever going to find Nathan, they probably doubted they were going to. Or find him alive. But they didn't quit, including Ray,” Drzewiecki said.

Woessner was rescued and revived in what's known as the Miracle on Mount Baldy. Ray rode with Nathan to the hospital and his mother has stayed in touch until Ray's death.

“I sent him pictures of Nathan over the past few years of different events, we got a new puppy, at Christmas time, I'd send Ray pictures. He was just such a good guy, he was a very sweet person,” Woessner said.

Faith says she's thankful first responders didn't give up and that her son is alive today thanks to Michigan City's finest, including Ray.

“It's just such a joy to watch him. I often look at him and I'm just so thankful for those men and women that day, the way they came together. They were just so remarkable,” Woessner said.

Visitation for Ray will happen on Saturday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Haverstock Funeral Home on Washington Street in Michigan City.

At 11:00 a.m., firefighters will perform a memorial service for Ray which will include the honor guard.