By Jay Cook |
RED BANK – Andrew Hill, a 26-year-old borough firefighter slain a few blocks from the firehouse where he answered calls, will be remembered as a rising star in the department and an outgoing, determined individual.
“It’s not easy,” said Scott Calabrese, 2nd Deputy Fire Chief of the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department. “This one hurts real bad. It’s going to take a while.”
Calabrese was one of the dozens of Red Bank firefighters and first responders gathered outside borough hall Monday morning for Red Bank’s annual firefighter Memorial Day ceremony. While saying goodbye to longtime friends and career volunteers who passed this past year, members from the six ladders also mourned the death of a young volunteer who friends said was a beloved member of the department.
At approximately 12:43 a.m. Sunday, local authorities received a 911 call for a stabbing victim at the corner of Tilton Avenue and Bank Street, on the borough’s West Side. Hill, the victim, was found at the scene and transported to Riverview Medical Center. He was pronounced dead nearly a half hour later at 1:15 a.m., according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Local police arrested Demar S. Reevey, a 23-year-old Red Bank resident, in connection with Hill’s death a short time later. Reevey was charged Sunday morning with first degree murder and third degree possession of a weapon (a knife) for an unlawful purpose.
Reevey had his first appearance before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman Tuesday afternoon. As of then, he was still being represented by a public defender. Reevey’s detention hearing is set for 9 a.m. June 1 with Bauman.
Detectives were still working on the investigation and motives on Wednesday, said Chris Swendeman, a spokesperson for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Hill’s sudden death shook the borough’s first responder community. He was a 2nd Lt. at the West Side Hose Company and more recently signed on as a volunteer with the Red Bank First Aid & Rescue Squad. He also was an active member in the Sea Bright Volunteer Fire Department.
Hill worked as a full-time security guard at Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel. He joined the hospital as a per diem security guard 18 months ago and was recently promoted to a full-time position, according to a statement from April Guillerme Dunic, a spokesperson for Hackensack Meridian.
Calabrese’s son was friends with Hill at West Side Hose Company. He said the young firefighter was a regular at the firehouse and also at his home. Calabrese said Hill was a talented drummer who played at the firehouse; he recalled driving by several times late into the night and seeing the lights still on.
Hill also just made the last payment for his official uniform earlier in the month, Calabrese said. He knew that was a big milestone for the young firefighter.
“It wasn’t easy for (Hill), life didn’t deal him the easy hand,” said Calabrese. “So he had to strive for what he wanted, he had to push himself.”
Tom Cosgrove, president of Red Bank First Aid & Rescue Squad, said he recently recruited Hill to the squad. Hill’s vigor and personality stood out to him.
“Just a tremendously nice guy, outgoing and willing to do anything that you needed him to do,” said Cosgrove. “Those are the things that the volunteer organizations need.”
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna led the Memorial Day event, where the department also honored six other male and female firefighters who passed since Memorial Day 2017. But Menna said Hill’s death was specifically difficult to talk about after the news broke.
Hill “was a reflection of our community, a reflection of Red Bank,” Menna said. “He is what Red Bank has always been, and I pray to God, what it will continue to be.”
The ceremony outside borough hall was silent. Some first responders stood still, others sniffled and wiped away tears. At the end, a representative from each department saluted the borough’s firefighter memorial and a wreath placed beside it. The seven names of deceased members were spoken aloud, each followed by a bell chime. The final name, Andrew Hill, was spoken a bit softer than the rest.
Stu Jensen, Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department Chief, said afterward that Hill’s death now “Changes the face of the holiday for me as an individual forever.”
“This reminds us that this is really not a day of celebration, it’s a day of remembrance and reverence,” Jensen said. “It really strikes home that way.”
Anyone who may have information about the stabbing is urged to contact Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Detective Paul Perez of the Red Bank Police Department at 732-530-2700.
Individuals who feel the need to remain anonymous, but who may have information relevant to this investigation can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com. Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of criminals and fugitives.
This article was first published in the May 31-June 7, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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