SAN ANTONIO – Family and friends said goodbye to a junior firefighter from the Harmony Fire Department as he was laid to rest Saturday.
Eighteen-year-old Dustin Welch died earlier this week in an ATV accident in Atascosa County.
When Dustin turned 18, he made the decision to become an organ donor – a choice now providing comfort to a grieving community.
Fire trucks lead the procession in a fitting tribute.
"He did not get a chance to go on his first ride so today will be his first ride on the fire truck,” a cousin said.
It was a lifelong dream fulfilled, tragically, in death.
Dustin hoped to serve his community as a firefighter and later, his country, as a Marine.
"He always told us to live life to the fullest, and he did,” the cousin said.
It’s not easy to let go of someone so energetic with so much left to give.
"He was my baby,” his mother Brenda Welch said. “He would do anything for anyone."
As parents, Brenda and Kevin Welch aren’t supposed to bury their son. They say there’s only one way to make sense of it.
I would like to try to get the younger people to be donors,” Kevin said. “It's very, very important to him. He was a firm believer in that."
Dustin made his wishes clear and now, his organs will be donated to a soldier wounded in Afghanistan as well as cancer patients.
"At least we know part of him is living on,” Brenda said.
Dustin was taken away too soon to be a firefighter or Marine, but as an organ donor, he found a way to save lives even in death.
The Welches say they plan to someday meet the people who were saved by Dustin’s organs and tell them why being an organ donor was so important to him.