TOWN OF BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island teen coping with the sudden loss of her father got an incredible gesture from the local fire department.

As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, they pulled off a special surprise – not once, but twice.

John Pouletsos served the Terryville Fire Department for 50 years. The man, known for his infectious smile, was a chief, commissioner and, perhaps his most important role, father to 18-year-old Cara.

He died of a heart attack in March at 67 years old, a few months shy of his daughter’s senior prom.

“He was there when we picked out my dress,” she told Rozner. “He was going to wait in the car and he was like, ‘Oh no, I want to come out, I want to take a picture of you in the dress,’ when I wasn’t even sure what dress I was getting.”

So last month, Pouletsos’s firefighters answered a very important call to get that picture for him.

“We felt we should be there for John, to be there for her. And that was the first then we said. He wasn’t there to take the picture with her going to her senior prom, so we would,” said Terryville Fire Department Chief Thomas Young.

About two dozen men and women crashed the dance and surprised Cara to get that photo.

“All of a sudden, I just see all of these guys in uniform, and I was like, ‘What? What’s going on?’” she said.

“I don’t think she knew what was going on at first, and then we all settled in, and she was just overwhelmed,” said Young.

Two days later, Cara graduated from Comsewogue High School, decorating her cap in her father’s memory. An even bigger crew from the fire department showed up with another surprise, including several engines, brush trucks and ambulances.

“They call my name, all of a sudden, the sirens go off, the lights go off, the horns, everything,” she said.

Her mom, who met her dad while serving in the department herself, caught it all on video.

“It’s a terrible tragedy that happened to our family, but the love and support that we’ve received has really carried us through,” said Cheryl Pouletsos.

“I just felt like he was there with me… I didn’t feel like I needed to cry, because I felt like with all of them there, that he was there with me,” Cara added.

She plans to follow her father’s footsteps. She’ll become a firefighter with the department in the fall, hoping to one day become chief of the department, too.


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