CINCINNATI -- "He was a fantastic individual. He had a zest for life and a positive outlook on life."
That's how IAFF Local 48 President Matt Alter described Jordan Pieniazek, a firefighter who was killed in a crash on his way to work on Sunday morning.
Pieniazek, 31, was riding his motorcycle to work when a car going the opposite way on Winton Road near Dutch Colony Road crossed the double yellow lines and struck him, police said.
Pieniazek worked for CFD as a firefighter and paramedic for seven years, Alter said. He began working at Station 35 in Westwood and then moved to Station 12 in Camp Washington. He volunteered for duties like training and hazmat tech school, according to Assistant Chief Thomas Lakamp, who called Pieniazek "a tremendous" man and father.
"It's a tragic loss," Lakamp said. "It's a tragic loss for the fire family ... Jordan treated everybody like they were his family."
Pieniazek's regular crew that he would've worked with Saturday went out on duty like normal.
"That's what Jordan would have wanted," Alter said.
His colleagues described Pieniazek as a man who lifted them up during the hard times. Firefighters put up a purple and black bereavement flag as a sign of grieving. Firefighters from other stations stopped by to offer their support.
Fire Chief Richard Braun said Pieniazek left behind "a great legacy."
Pieniazek, 31, had a wife and three children, ages 1, 3, and 6 years-old. His youngest child and only son, Ever, turned 1 on Saturday, Alter said.
"There is no way to overstate the gratefulness we have for God's steadfast, everlasting love," he wrote on Facebook Friday, describing the ups and downs of his wife's pregnancy with Ever. "It was the stability we had amidst such instability.
"Thank you for being here with us through this journey. It has made a difference," he wrote.
Alter said the union has met with Pieniazek's family to "make sure all needs are met."
"We aren't just a family while Jordan's here," Lakamp said. "We are a forever family, and we will always be here for her, for whatever she and her children need."
Alter also said Pieniazek was "a man of faith."
"Tragedy always hurts," Alter said. "It's always tough to deal with one of these situations, but I think in this circumstance what may set it apart is that he has such a young family."
The Cincinnati Police traffic unit is investigating the crash. The other driver was not cited or charged at the scene.
Unit Commander Bruce Hoffbauer said CPD is working closely with CFD on the investigation.
"We handle these kinds of investigations, but this one is a little different," Hoffbauer said. "He’s a first responder like the police officers are, so it’s a little more difficult for us. Our condolences go out to the family."