SPOTSWOOD, NJ - A large contingent of first responders from area towns along with family, friends and community members came to pay their respects to emergency medical technician Hinal Patel at a candlelight vigil at the Spotswood Municipal Complex last night.
Patel lost her life on July 25 while responding to a routine call in the neighboring town of East Brunswick. The ambulance she was riding in was struck by another vehicle when crossing through the intersection of Ryders Lane and Cranbury Road in East Brunswick.
Despite the warm temperatures, people began gathering early outside of the Municipal Complex on Summerhill Road. The United States Honor Flag, which honors fallen police, fire, EMS, first responders and members of the armed forces, hung at half mast in the background. Memorials were set up on the back of North Stelton and Spotwood ambulances to mark Patel's distinguished line of service for both EMS units. The photographs showed Patel throughout her short life.
The 22-year-old Piscataway resident was laid to rest on Monday at a service at Franklin Memorial Park in North Brunswick. Patel's funeral was also well attended by first responders from across the state. Her tragic story captured the attention of national media since Patel was in the process of completing her final shift for the Spotswood EMS before heading to graduate school next month when she was killed in the line of duty.
As police and ambulance lights flickered in the growing darkness and candles glowed in the hands of those in attendance, representatives from the Spotwood Town Council, friends, family and colleagues remembered Patel's life with words of praise and memories of her time growing up and working as an EMT. One constant message came through as each person offered their heartfelt remarks for Patel; she died doing what she loved most, "helping people."