We regret to pass on that the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department is mourning the loss of Captain Crystal Rezzonico. She died today at the age of 56 after a courageous eight-year battle that resulted from injuries she suffered after a tragic line of duty responding crash in 2009.
Crystal sustained a traumatic brain injury on August 11, 2009 after a sedan traveling nearly 70 miles an hour struck the passenger door of E910. The crew was responding code three to a fire dispatch when the crash occurred at a busy intersection. The impact was so severe that it ejected her from the truck. She landed headfirst, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury and broke both ankles.
Note: The issue of seatbelt usage in this tragic incident is covered in a link at the end of this article.
Crystal was in a coma for nearly two weeks, endured multiple surgeries, and years of rehabilitation. A fighter, she returned to duty just over a year after the accident and eventually the right front seat of E910. During her final years with Phoenix Fire, Crystal continued to contribute her knowledge, experience, and professionalism to the department and community. Crystal retired on December 30, 2014 with 23 years on the job.
Crystal served as a Firefighter, Engineer, and Captain. She was such a role model to others that she was appointed the first firefighter mentor at the Phoenix Regional Training Academy. In addition, she held the role of lead recruitment officer and was instrumental in forming an academy designed specifically ensure our female fire candidates would be successful in the testing and training process. She was also well known for her work with Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Local 493.
The injuries that Crystal suffered after that tragic collision absolutely led to her early passing and she will be afforded the full Line of Duty death honors that she so richly deserves.
Crystal is survived by her sons Austin Rezzonico, who is a Phoenix Firefighter and Cutter Pleasant, her two sisters, Mother and Father, and numerous beloved nieces and nephews.
Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner told the Secret List that Crystal was deeply admired by her family, colleagues, and the community. “She was the consummate professional.
When the crash occurred, Crystal had 21 years under her belt and was showing no signs of slowing down. She was just getting started. She was always involved, caring, and deeply committed to the Phoenix Fire Department and her community. She demonstrated her ferocious strength in her courageous battle to come back to a fire truck. The surgeries and rehabilitation that she endured were staggering and yet, she persevered and returned. Tragically, she eventually succumbed as a result of the crash.
Our condolences to the PFD, Crystal’s family and friends.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.
The Secret List 2-16-2017-2359 Hours
Here is a video about the crash:
Here is a video about Captain Rezzonico:
Here is a link related to the seatbelt use in this particular incident: