CLINTON — The American and Iowa flags whipped in the cold January wind outside the Clinton Fire Department where they flew at half staff Sunday afternoon.
Slowly, a crowd gathered, old and young, huddled in coats, hats, mittens and blankets, to show their respect as Clinton Fire Lt. Eric Hosette made his last trip to Central Fire Station.
Hosette, 33, died while fighting a grain silo fire that launched an explosion at Clinton's Archer Daniels Midland plant Saturday morning. His body was taken to Ankeny for autopsy and returned to Clinton on Sunday afternoon.
Memorial services are pending through Snell-Zornig Funeral Home, Clinton City Administrator Matt Brooke said in a press release Sunday. He expects the wake and service to be scheduled for the end of the week.
Clinton Fire Lt. Allen Schutte doesn't remember ever losing a firefighter in Clinton before. Schutte was one of many who fought tears Sunday afternoon while discussing the weekend's tragedy.
Firefighters from Davenport and DeWitt helped cover calls Saturday night and Sunday as Clinton firefighters rested from their shift at the ADM fire, took care of injuries, readied vehicles and dealt with the sorrow of losing a friend and colleague, Schutte said.
"Some of these are old Clinton firefighters," Schutte said of those helping at the station. "They're more than happy to come back and work a 12-hour shift to help us out."
"It's just what we do," said Engineer Ron Wilson of Davenport. "They've got other arrangements that need taken care of. We're going to fill that void for them."
Outside the station, people began to arrive about 2:30 p.m. Sunday to await the hearse carrying Hosette.
"We're here to show our respect," said Mike Henshaw, who was accompanied by his 5-year-old daughter Nerissa Clark. "She wants to be a firefighter."
His grandfather and cousin had been firefighters, Henshaw said.
Sue Roberts' family delivered a plate of cookies to the fire station before taking their place among the gathering crowd on Third Avenue South. Roberts and her wife, Liz, used to work for the fire department in Coal City, Illinois, she said.
"Our son-in-law, Joe [Dawes], is going to paramedic school," she added.
Dawes said some of Clinton's firefighters are in paramedic class with him. He and his wife, Jamie, and their two young children, Sawyer and Piper, joined the onlookers across from the fire station.
Judy Schaley kept chemical hand-warmers in her fists as she waited on the corner of Third Avenue South and Fourth Street.
"If I had to stay out here 10 hours to wait for him I would," Schaley said.
Schaley walked to the station on the blustery day "to give respect to the firefighters for what they do for us. To tell them all that we're grateful to have them in our lives."
"It hits home when you lose someone so special in the community," Schaley said.
State Rep. Mary Wolfe of Clinton stood beside her neighbors in Clinton Park on Sunday afternoon.
"I'm very, very sad for the family and friends," Wolfe said. "I think it's lovely that so many members of the community have come out to show their support."
About 4 p.m., the hearse carrying Hosette made its way down South Fourth Street, turned onto Third Avenue South and stopped briefly in front of Central Fire Station as more than 50 law enforcement officers, firefighters, family members and friends stood at attention. Firetrucks from Camanche, Wheatland, and the Illinois towns of Albany and Fulton were among those that followed and lined up on South Fourth Street.
As the hearse continued to Snell-Zornig Funeral Home, firefighters received a call. Onlookers stepped back from the street and waited as a fire engine and rescue vehicle pulled out of the station.