Union Grove volunteer firefighter killed in crash, fondly remembered

Eugene Faust, an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter from Union Grove, won't get to live the bright future expected of him. He helped others until the day he died – and beyond.

Faust's co-workers said he was an ordained minister, would act almost as their therapist on calls, was a diesel mechanic and, most importantly, a firefighter through and through.

"He had a big heart, wanted to help everybody," said Union Grove Yorkville Fire Chief Tim Allen.

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"One of our members down here was having car problems, and Eugene took off work to give him a tow," said Riley Walters, a firefighter and paramedic with the department.

When it came to helping others, Faust didn't just walk – he ran.

Eugene Faust

"Thirty seconds mattered to him," said Bailey Reza, a firefighter and EMT. "He was absolutely nothing but special."

"His parents told us he would sleep in his clothes in the middle of the night just so he could respond to calls," EMT Ashley Brice said.

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While still at Union Grove High School, Faust started along the path to becoming a firefighter. He only had to cross the street from school to get to a place that felt like home.

"He was right where he belonged with this fire department," Walters said.

Special from head to toe, Faust wore boots so big they had to be custom-made. Walters said Faust didn't just wear the gear, he embodied its spirit.

Eugene Faust's boots

"You had a gift and were meant to wear this shirt," he said. "Firemen are about serving other people, taking care of complete strangers and in his final moment with his body, his final act was to serve onto others."

Walters was part of the crew responding to a crash on State Highway 11 on July 13. 

"When one of my friends who was taking care of him turned around and said who it was, it definitely kind of made your heart drop," said Walters.

Eugene Faust

The sheriff's office said Faust was riding a motorcycle when he was involved in a crash with a car around 10 p.m. that night.

"That’s the unfortunate evil of this job that no one tells you is that, sooner or later, you’re going to come across people that you know or care about, especially when you work and live in a small town," Allen said.

The 18-year-old was taken to the hospital via Flight for Life after crash. He died the next day.

"I’m proud it was us, our brothers taking care of our brother, because it was – he got top-notch care," said Walters. "I’m glad we could be there for him because he would be there for us."

Eugene Faust memorial

Faust wasn't just there for his brothers and sisters in service, but for strangers, too. His parents told the chief that Faust chose to be an organ donor.

"Even the tragedy that it is, he found a way to keep giving even after death," Allen said.

Faust leaves behind shoes too big to fill, and a mark that won't fade. His funeral is Saturday, July 23 and his fellow firefighters will be there – some as pallbearers.

The driver of the car that hit Faust, a 43-year-old Sturtevant woman, was not injured in the crash. The cause remains under investigation.