Veteran firefighter dies, wife not allowed to attend funeral

The flag flies at half-staff at Brownsville Fire Station Number Two in honor of 53-year-old Juan Casanova, an almost 20-year veteran firefighter.

His nephew, Luis Casanova, said Juan was at work, doing what he loved, when he first suffered a heart attack.

"Four heart attacks in total and he was still able to survive," Luis Casanova said.

Since mid-July the 53-year-old has been hospitalized in Houston trying to recuperate.

He was a fighter; he fought every step of the way, even till the end," daughter Norma Casanova said.

Unfortunately the fight ended there and Juan didn't make it.

His only daughter, Norma could not lose hope.

"I remembered they turned off the respirator. They removed it and he was kind of breathing on his own for a couple of minutes and I just remember having that little bit of hope he could continue breathing on his own and come out of it on his own by some miracle, you know, but when he took his last breath at 11:30 that's when it really hit me...I knew he was gone, Norma Casanova said.

Norma said she knows her father is in a better place free from pain and agony.

She said she was daddy's little girl and besides being remembered as a hero she will always have good memories of him.

"With his smile, laughter, his jokes always joking around, always having something to say," Norma Casanova said.

Luis said his uncle, a hero in his eyes, was just about to retire.

What is making this situation worse for the family, is that Casanova's wife, Herminia a Mexican national, has not been granted permission to attend her husband's funeral.

The only time she was able to see him was when he was passing when they unplugged him from the ventilator. That was through Skype and she was able to talk to him through the phone, the nephew said.

"To my love, and his love for me, I thank God for letting us live a lot of years together" Herminia Casanova said

The family is asking the U.S. Government to grant special permission, even for just a day, so Herminia can be by their side as they say goodbye.

Visitations will be held tomorrow at Funeraria Del Angel Buena Vista in Brownsville from 1 pm to 9pm.

Prayer service begins at 7pm.

Chapel service will take place on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 1 pm at Funeraria Del Angel Buena Vista with a committal service to follow at Buena Vista Burial Park.

Full honors will be conducted by Brownsville Firefighters Association Local 970.