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Families of fallen Newark firefighters seek answers weeks after their deaths

Newark firefighters Wayne Brooks, Jr. and Augusto Acabou were honored at a ceremony at American Dream on Wednesday.

Matt Trapani and Amanda Lee

Aug 23, 2023, 9:10 PM

Updated 303 days ago

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Several first responders were honored Wednesday at a ceremony at American Dream.
The ceremony honored Newark firefighters Wayne Brooks, Jr. and Augusto Acabou, who died while battling a cargo ship fire at Port Newark.
Family members of the fallen firefighters were on hand for the ceremony. They say that they are still looking for answers following the tragedy.
“We’re grateful that everybody’s thinking about us and thinking about him,” says a relative of Acabou.
But the family says they are still looking for more clarity as to why their loved ones died in the first place.
“One of the main questions we have as a family is, ‘Why were they there?’ There was no physical life to save,” says widow Michele Brooks. “You’re telling me I lost my husband over materialistic things and someone else’s monetary gain?”
Newark city officials say they plan to learn from the results of the investigation and make necessary changes so this doesn’t happen again.
But according to the Newark Firefighters Union and the families of the deceased firefighters, the issue is clear.
“If changes aren’t implemented and policies change, unfortunately, it’ll happen again,” says Acabou’s relative.
Both families say that the outpouring of support from all over the world means a lot.
"I know my husband did not die in vain and hopefully there will be some really great changes that come out of this,” says Michele Brooks.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to the United States Coast Guard and the Port Authority for an update on the investigation. They were not able to share any updates at this time.
Also honored at the American Dream ceremony were a group of state troopers who rescued several firefighters from the Passaic River.
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