DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – New York City firefighters Monday evening lined up to salute the flag draped body of Brian McDaniel, a Dallas firefighter killed in a helicopter crash in the East River.
Emotional family members watched as he was carried from the medical examiner’s office to a waiting ambulance.
Video posted to Instagram less than 24 hours earlier shows McDaniel sitting behind Trevor Cadigan, the longtime friend he was visiting in New York City, as they took off in a helicopter for a photoshoot flight over the New York City skyline.
Minutes later, a witness’ cell phone captured their helicopter descending into the East River.
McDaniel and Cadigan were among five passengers killed following the crash. Only the pilot survived.
“They were really close,” remembers Megan Polakoff, who attended Bishop Lynch High School with the two. “They were just funny. They would feed off each other’s humor.”
Polakoff kept in touch with McDaniel, as he became a firefighter two years ago.
No matter the circumstances, she said, he always welcomed her warmly.
“I just always remember him with a smile and his bear hugs. He just gave the biggest hugs,” she said.
She said, he loved being a firefighter, despite the risks of the jobs, and when she last saw him several weeks ago, she left him with a hug.
“And I just said, ‘be careful’,” she recalls.
McDaniel was visiting Cadigan who had recently moved to New York for a job at Business Insider.
Cadigan graduated from SMU with a degree in business journalism and interned at WFAA, where his fathers works as a longtime production manager.
“Trevor was one of those students who gave us a great deal of optimism about journalism and about the future of news media. He was very meticulous, very detailed,” recalled Tony Pederson, chair of SMU’s journalism program.
“All of us are just heartbroken,” said Pederson.