HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Donald DiPetrillo, a South Florida fire chief for nearly 50 years, has died from complications of the new coronavirus.
DiPetrillo, who had been the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s fire chief since 2008, was 70.
The tribe says DiPetrillo, a Davie resident, died late Thursday night at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood after contracting COVID-19 in early March. He was initially hospitalized March 10, released the following day, and then readmitted March 12 to the hospital, where he remained undergoing treatment.
DiPetrillo is believed to have contracted the virus while attending an EMS Today emergency medical services conference in Tampa in early March, the tribe said in a news release.
Dozens of first responders from multiple agencies gathered at Memorial Regional Hospital on Friday for a procession to Plantation where DiPetrillo will be laid to rest.
A somber salute from first responders as they escort the body Seminole Tribe Fire Chief Don Dipetrillo from Memorial Regional Hospital. According to the tribe, the chief died from complications of the #coronavirus He was 70 yrs old. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/pTSXWqv87n— Roy Ramos (@RRamosWPLG) May 1, 2020
Before joining the Seminole Tribe, DiPetrillo served the fire chief for the Town of Davie from 2001-2007 and he was assistant fire chief in Fort Lauderdale from 1973-2001.
“Don played a major role in bringing a new level of professionalism to the Fire Department operations of Seminole Fire Rescue,” William Latchford, executive director of public safety for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said in a statement. “Chief DiPetrillo understood that success in life was about just being nice. If you care for people, the rest takes care of itself. His care, commitment, and leadership for over 50 years of service, helped shape the future of the fire service, not only within the Seminole Tribe, but also in the State of Florida.”
DiPetrillo was a graduate of McArthur High School in Hollywood and Barry University, and he held an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Broward College. The tribe said he joined the U.S. Navy in 1971 and was honorably discharged into the United States Reserves in 1972.
“His 50 years of selfless service to our nation and South Florida will leave a huge hole in our hearts,” the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Broward County said in a statement.
He is survived by his mother, Joan, and son, Tyson, of Davie, two brothers and his girlfriend Lindy Maracic.