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Firefighter remembered as public servant

By By Caty Hirst - chirst@vicad.com
June 23, 2012 at 1:23 a.m.

Pallbearers bring the casket across a line of Victoria firefighters and police to Daniel Teinert's final resting place in Memory Gardens Cemetery.

"He had just recently told me, he said, 'Mom I want to make a difference. I want to rescue people.' That was just something that was in his heart, and that blesses me."

-Patricia Teinert

Daniel Teinert's mother

Friends, family and Victoria Fire Department personnel flooded Faith Family Church on Saturday to celebrate the life of a young firefighter who died in an off-duty motorcycle wreck.

Daniel Teinert, 22, of Victoria, was found alongside the 5500 block of North Main Street on Tuesday afternoon, according to Victoria Police Sgt. Eline Moya.

Crowds gathered in the entranceway of the church, each person patiently waiting for a chance to walk past the pictures lining the hallway - Daniel in front of a Christmas tree, Daniel blowing out birthday candles, Daniel at graduation, Daniel holding up hunting prizes, Daniel riding a tricycle...

In all the pictures, Daniel is smiling.

"It was hard to narrow pictures down, with his huge smile glaring through each one," his brother, Joshua Teinert, said during the service. "But Daniel had an even bigger heart."

His mother, Patricia Teinert, believes Daniel was a man with a desire to serve and had finally found his niche with the Victoria Fire Department.

"I know that Daniel searched a little bit before he found what he wanted to do, but I think he found it," Patricia Teinert said. "He had just recently told me, he said, 'Mom, I want to make a difference. I want to rescue people.' That was just something that was in his heart, and that blesses me."

Eli Sauseda, currently the adult ministries pastor at Faith Family Church, began as the children's pastor when Daniel was 5 years old.

"I got to see, week-in week-out, a kid with an infectious smile," Sauseda said about Daniel.

"I began looking through old pictures, and you will be happy to know that all the pictures I found, except for one, Daniel was either soaking wet from a water fight, covered in shaving cream or hugging on one of our staff girls," Sauseda said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

The family used the time to recall memories of Daniel and share them with friends.

"I remember when all three of us were younger, Josh and I would give him a Nintendo controller that wasn't plugged in while we played," Daniel's older brother, Matthew Teinert, said laughing. "He would stand up and jump around trying to control his character, but eventually he would figure it out. At that point, he would go ballistic and we were forced to restrain him. Literally."

The service, however, was not all filled with good memories and laughter, as loved ones battled with grief and anger over the loss.

"The biggest thing I am struggling with right now is my anger at Daniel for the choices he made, choices that changed our lives and ended his," Matthew said. "What I was reminded of when I cried out in my pain and anger, was a Daniel that dedicated his life to saving others as a firefighter. Everyday he was willing to save your life, with reckless abandon for his own."

To honor his commitment to the fire department, the Honor Guard began and ended both the service and the burial, presenting the colors and playing the bagpipes.

Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles lined the route to the cemetery to show respect and support to the family. Fire Chief Taner Drake presented Patricia with the flag that was flying over the firehouse during Daniel's last shift.

Teinert's accident is still under investigation, Moya said, although preliminary results indicate speed was a factor in the wreck.

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