Firefighters surprise late chief’s daughter at graduation

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — For Emily Switalski, graduating from Western Michigan University was bittersweet.

Her father Comstock Township Fire Chief Ed Switalski was killed in the line of duty in June. He was hit by a vehicle while responding to an accident call on I-94.

“You know, after these things happen, life keeps moving on and you have to kind of just roll with the punches,” Emily Switalski told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.

While her dad couldn’t be there in person to watch her graduate Saturday, Switalski said she knows he was there in spirit.

“I knew going into the ceremony that it was going to be a very bittersweet day for me just because when I was going into the year originally I didn’t think that my dad would be missing my graduation,” she said.

Though her dad couldn’t be there in person, he found a way to be there in a different way.

“There’s a song, ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles, that we played at his funeral,” she said. “We always say whenever it comes on, ‘He’s with us,’” Emily Switalski said. “And my mom picked me up to take me to my ceremony, and on the radio was the song. And so, just to get in the car to go to the biggest day of my life and hear that, I knew he was truly with me.”

Firefighters who worked with Chief Switalski also showed up to her graduation ceremony to surprise her. She tweeted a photo of her with some firefighters from her father’s station.

“So much has been done for my dad and so much has been done to honor him and it’s incredible to see them come out and honor me and carry on my dad’s legacy for him since he couldn’t be there,” Emily Switalski said.

When asked whether any of the firefighters gave her words of advice, she said, “Just do everything to make my dad proud and just go out there and be the best person I possibly could be.”

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