Firefighter killed on I-95 laid to rest Thursday afternoon

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It’s a sad day as the Wilmington Manor Fire Company and the Westchester University Police Department laid one of their own to rest.

NEW CASTLE (DE) BY George Shea, Photojournalist: Wilmington Manor Firefighter Cecelia Escobar-Duplan was finally laid to rest after a Last Alarm sounding Thursday afternoon at Gracelawn Memorial Park.

Although Duplan was not on duty at the time of her death, the Wilmington Manor Fire Company chose to honor their fallen who stood out not only in their department but also in the community.

“Cecelia was a very enthusiastic and charismatic person that was continually improving her skills to grow in the Department and within her life and community”, says Wilmington Manor Fire Company President Ronald T. Hopkins. “We are saddened by this loss, and are in contact with her family to provide any support while they deal with their grief.” Cecilia was not married and has no children, however, has very close knit siblings and parents.

Photo Westchester University Police Department | A Wilmington Manor off-duty Fire Fighter was struck and killed Sunday morning while assisting a motorist on I-95 who had spun out of control and crashed in a construction zone.

Hundreds of people attended the one hour funeral services that was held at the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in New Castle around 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

As the procession made it’s way towards the church, Duplan, laid in her casket with an American flag draped around it on the bed of a Wilmington manor Fire Company 1928 vintage fire engine. Band Pipes and drums plaid as a group of firefighters brought her casket into the church.

Following the services, a procession made it’s way to the Gracelawn Memorial Park where two ladder trucks awaited her arrival with an American Flag screeched across the entrance.

Photo by George Shea, for Delaware Newsline | Wilmington Manor Firefighter Cecelia Escobar-Duplan was finally laid to rest after a Last Alarm sounding Thursday afternoon at Gracelawn Memorial Park.

Cecelia Escobar-Duplan, 25, was on her way home from her job at Westchester University where she worked as a security officer, when she drove upon the crash scene around 4:15 a.m. Sunday August 22, 2021.

According to Delaware State Police, Duplan was struck when she stepped into the traffic lane where a vehicle had crashed to assist the motorist. The motorist, a 37-Year-Old man, was operating a black 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee in the southbound lanes on Interstate 95 through a construction zone and struck a crash attenuator positioned in the gore area between the single southbound lane of travel and the exit ramp for Delaware Avenue.

The Jeep subsequently rotated clockwise and came to rest perpendicular to the roadway, completely blocking the single southbound lane of travel police say.

“After this collision, a 25-year-old female who was traveling southbound I-95, stopped her vehicle on the left shoulder of the off-ramp to Delaware Avenue.,” Said Delaware State Police spokesman Jason Hatchell. “The female exited her vehicle and walked into the single southbound lane of travel to offer assistance to the operator of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.”

Photo by George Shea, for Delaware Newsline | Wilmington Manor Firefighter Cecelia Escobar-Duplan was finally laid to rest after a Last Alarm sounding Thursday afternoon at Gracelawn Memorial Park.

Hatchell said, “During that time, a 2016 GMC Sierra pickup truck was approaching the collision scene. The 72-year-old operator was unable to perceive the collision ahead due to lighting and weather conditions. The front of the GMC struck the pedestrian within the southbound lane of travel and then struck the passenger side of the Jeep Cherokee. Both vehicles traveled south together a short distance and eventually came to rest within the single southbound lane of travel, again completely blocking the travel lane.

The 37-year-old operator of the Jeep was transported to Wilmington Hospital where he was treated and later released for minor injuries.

Photo by George Shea, for Delaware Newsline | Wilmington Manor Firefighter Cecelia Escobar-Duplan was finally laid to rest after a Last Alarm sounding Thursday afternoon at Gracelawn Memorial Park.

The 25-year-old pedestrian was transported by ambulance to Christiana Hospital where she was pronounced deceased. Police identified her on Monday August 23, 2021, as Cecelia Escobar-Duplan.

Impairment is not a factor with any operator in this collision., police said.

Interstate 95 southbound was closed at its junction with US Route 202 for approximately 5 hours while the two collisions were investigated and cleared.

Photo by George Shea, for Delaware Newsline | Wilmington Manor Firefighter Cecelia Escobar-Duplan was finally laid to rest after a Last Alarm sounding Thursday afternoon at Gracelawn Memorial Park.

“Cecelia Escobar-Duplan had joined the Wilmington Manor Volunteer Fire Company in June 2018 as a probationary member and achieved full senior member status in June 2019.,” said Dave Carpenter, spokesman for the Wilmington Manor Fire Company. “She acquired her Firefighting and basic medical training, and was actively riding the Ambulance as an apprentice. She was registered to start the Emergency Medical Technician Course this fall to acquire her State and National Registry certifications.”

Cecelia was employed as a Security Officer at West Chester University, while also attending there to finish her Criminal Justice undergraduate degree after previously acquiring an Associates in Criminal Justice at Delaware Technical and Community College.

“Those of us that knew Cecilia know that this is exactly the kind of person she was. Cecilia would always go out of her way to help anyone and everyone in need! We will all miss the smile and brightness that she brought to this Department and the campus community.” | Westchester University Police Department.

Police say the investigation remains on-going. Anyone with information regarding this collision should contact Detective Breen with the Delaware State Police Troop 2 Collision Reconstruction Unit by calling 302-365-8486. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via the internet at http://www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com

Contact George Shea at gshea@delawarenewsline.com. Follow him on Twitter @denewsline.

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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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