2017-09-21 / Obituaries

Michael Vadala, Lindenhurst HS graduate, volunteer firefighter and EMT, at 24

by Carolyn James

Michael Vadala grew up in Lindenhurst with a passion for sports. He played lacrosse and ice hockey, often on the same team as his younger brother Corey.

It wasn’t until he was 18 however, that he found his real passion in life as a volunteer firefighter and EMT.

“He volunteered for the Babylon Fire Department and from there he really got involved with the rescue squad, said his stepmother Suzanne. “He went for his certifications and was constantly on the run answering calls.”

It was many of the volunteers he worked with who responded to the scene of his automobile accident on Aug. 13 in an effort to save his life. Despite valiant attempts, Michael Vadala died at the scene of the accident on Sunrise Highway and North Monroe Avenue, Lindenhurst.

“He was the type of a kid who was always there to help people,” said his stepmother. “He was big and strong, but friendly, concerned and open.”

He grew up in Lindenhurst and later moved to Fire Island Avenue, Babylon. He worked in the city as an electrician, but more recently he moved to Bay Shore and joined the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance corps as an EMT. He was preparing to take the FDNY test this fall. “It was something he loved and he was looking forward to taking that test,” said his mother.

At his funeral, hundreds of people, many who he knew through the fire departments, attended. Some told stories about how Michael was always there to pitch in and help.

“When I thought about all those people, I realized that with all of his training and the lives he saved, he was doing

God’s work, despite his short time on earth,” said his stepmother.

“He was a regular kid who found it easy to give,” said his step grandmother Jeanne Cummings of Babylon. “From the first time I met him, he called me grandma, and it was very comfortable,” said Cummings. “He had a natural instinct to give; it was easy for him.”

“He was very outgoing and would help anyone in need,” said Drew Tatzel, a volunteer with the Babylon Fire Department who became friends with Michael when he joined that department. “I think it is important for people to realize that when someone goes out of their way to help others, even those they do not know, they are special people and Michael was definitely one of those special people.”

Joe Conti, a friend he grew up with Michael in Lindenhurst, said he was not surprised when Michael said he was becoming a volunteer firefighter. “That is the way he was,,” he said. “He’d be the first one there if you needed help.”

It was Michael’s inspiration that prompted Conti to join the Lindenhurst Fire Department.

Donna Conti, Joe’s mother, said he spent a lot of time at their house and described Michael as a the kind of a young man who was always able to find a place to fit in. She and his friends are now raising funds to put up a memorial plaque in Michael’s name at Firemen’s Park in Lindenhurst. “We don’t want him to be remembered for the way he died,” she said. “We want him remembered for the way he lived.”

Michael Vadala is survived by his father and stepmother Michael and Suzanne Vadala of Babylon, by his mother Virginia, and by his siblings: Saprina of Lindenhurst, Sarah and her husband Jason of Holbrook, Corey, George of Hawaii and Sean of Brooklyn. His grandparents, Mary Farkas of Lindenhurst, June and John Vadala of Lindenhurst and Jeanne Cummings of Babylon also survive him, as do many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He was predeceased by his grandfather John Farkas.

Mr. Vadala reposed at the Johnson Funeral Home, 305 North Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, where Firematic Services were held with the assistance of the West Islip, Lindenhurst, Babylon and Bay Shore fire departments. Deacon Barry Croce conducted religious services at the funeral home on Aug. 19. Cremation was private.

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