NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Stephen Siller Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation announced Monday that it will pay off the mortgage for the family of FDNY firefighter William Tolley, who died after falling off a building while battling a fire in Queens.
Tolley’s wife Marie and 8-year-old daughter Isabella held each other and thanked fellow firefighters and the foundation for making their time of grief a little easier, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
Isabella wore her father’s FDNY badge as her mother fought back tears.
“We just want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Marie Tolley said. “To the firefighters here who worked with Billy and everyone in the fire department that’s been with us every second.”
This is the 12th mortgage the foundation has paid off for families of a first responder who died in the line of duty. They rely entirely on individual donations, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“When they lay their head down, there’s one less burden,” said Tunnel 2 Towers CEO Frank Siller. “One less burden that they have to think about.”
Tolley, a member of Ladder 135 Engine 286, was killed while responding to a fire at a single unit apartment on Putnam Avenue last week.
The 14-year-old veteran fell to his death when something went wrong as he was standing on the roof of the five-story building.
“I know Billy. He would be so grateful and proud because he loved this job,” his wife said. “Thank you to everyone who has sent their prayers and condolences to our family and to his firehouse.”
The doors at Tolley’s longtime stationhouse are adorned with flowers and handwritten thank you cards from a community that loved the firefighter like family.
Tolley’s parents, brother, and sister sat in the front row as FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro promised that they too would always be a part of the fire department’s family.
“We will never say farewell to family, who will always be members of the fire department family,” he said.
A tragic accident took her father away, but Bella will grow up knowing he died a hero.
“Your daddy, your daddy was a hero, a hero and everyone here will be here for you forever,” Nigro said.
The fire commissioner said they are still investigating what caused Tolley to fall.
The FDNY Foundation has also set up a William N. Tolley’s Children’s Educational Fund. To donate, visit www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate and select the fund from the drop down menu.