New Jersey Firefighter Recruit, Inspired to Follow Late Father's Footsteps, Dies After Collapsing in Training

Victor Melillo, 21, died during training to become a firefighter.

Victor Melillo, who was an only child, lost his father nine months ago, wrote Alexis Jude Kordas wrote on Melillo’s GoFundMe page. 

A 21-year-old firefighter recruit following in his late father's footsteps died tragically last week after he collapsed during a routine firefighting training exercise, reports said.

Victor Melillo had been participating in a training exercise for the Irvington Fire Academy that was being held in the parking lot of the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy when he suddenly collapsed, the county said in a statement.

The incident happened shortly after 9:30 a.m. on March 4. Officials said that several first responders that were already on the scene, including EMTs, quickly attended to Melillo. Paramedics transported him to the Morristown Medical Center where he remained in critical condition, the statement said.  

Melillo remained in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit until he died on Tuesday, People magazine reported. A family friend announced on his GoFundMe page that he was pronounced brain dead at the hospital.

When reached by Inside Edition Digital, the Morris County Medical Examiner declined to comment on Melillo’s cause of death.

Melillo, who was an only child, lost his father nine months ago, said Mellilo's close friend and GoFundMe page organizer Alexis Jude Kordas. 

According to Kordas, Mellilo's father was a 25-year veteran and fire captain in neighboring Belleville.

Kordas wrote that Melillo “always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps" by “helping people and saving lives,” and “even after death, he is fulfilling that dream by donating his organs.” She described Melillo as one of the “goofiest, selfless, loving” people she had ever met and expressed gratitude for knowing him. Kordas created the GoFundMe page to help offset funeral expenses. The campaign has raised over $9,200 of its goal of $15,000.

The Salem County New Jersey Fire Academy staff and firefighter 1 recruits conducted a brief ceremony Wednesday in front of their building to honor and remember Melillo after they wrote that he went into "cardiac arrest" while engaged in academy training.

"A young life and third-generation firefighter gone far too soon. REST EASY FF Victor Melillo," the department wrote.