VISTA, Calif. – The Vista Fire Department said goodbye to a beloved fallen firefighter on Saturday.
Andy Valenta, 33, died on April 25 after a three-month battle with cancer.
“Andy was just, an extremely, one of those one in a million folks that you’ve met him once you just found him one of the best friends you ever had,” said retired Escondido Division Chief Pete Montgomery.
Montgomery knew Valenta for a decade. He said his son was Valenta’s mentor at the start of his fire career and they later became close friends.
Montgomery speaks of Valenta as top-notch person who cared deeply about others along with being a great firefighter. Valenta was named firefighter of the year in 2013.
“Andy was one of those guys he was always ready, he wanted to be the best he could,” he said.
Valenta’s passing is not just a big loss to this fire family, but to his family. He leaves behind his wife, Caylie, and their two young daughters.
Although Valenta can’t be here to care for his family, his fire family will be keeping watch.
“There’s individuals that are at the house doing the yardwork for Caylie; there’s individuals running errands for them,” he said. “They’ve been able to set up a college fund for the girls, so you know, to help out throughout their lives.”