Longtime Hialeah officer, emergency services chief dies at 51

 

eflor@ElNuevoHerald.com

José Francisco Caragol Jr., Hialeah’s emergency services coordinator and the son of City Councilman José Caragol, has died. he was 51 and had cancer.

“There is no word for a parent who loses a child,” Caragol said. “It’s a huge pain. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense.”

Caragol Jr., known as Joe, had a 27-year-long police career until January. During the past seven years, he was in charge of handling the city’s emergency response to crises and natural disasters.

“He was the person responsible for creating, organizing and bringing respect to our emergency service,” Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said. “And it serves as a guideline to many other municipalities. Many called him for advice on what to do and they followed his recommendations in difficult circumstances.”

Councilman Caragol said that in 2012 his son suffered from permanent back pain, for which he received chiropractic treatment. In November, shortly before Thanksgiving, he was diagnosed of advanced pancreatic and liver cancer. He died on Sunday.

Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby said that the illness surprised everyone in the department.

“He was given very little chance, but Joe decided to fight it with a radical treatment,” Zogby said. “He was not doing it for himself but for his small child. He continued coming to work after the diagnosis, though he later realized that he could no longer do a full job. And he was an employee who would not settle for doing half the work.”

Caragol Jr. joined Hialeah police in January 1986 as a patrol officer and served under different units, including burglary and anti-drug investigations, until he took over emergency services in 2006.

He was a great sports fan, especially football and wrestling.

“He once won a wrestling match with a broken collarbone,” his father said. “He was a fighter since he was a kid, always a firm, decisive guy.”

Besides his father, Caragol Jr. is survived by his 4-year-old son, Anthony Thomas, and his sisters Silvia María, Viviem Marie and María Aurora.

The funeral is Wednesday at Vista Memorial, 14200 NW 57th Ave. in Miami Lakes.

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