Chesterfield Fire, childhood friend speak out in honor of firefighter who died while off-duty

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - On Wednesday, Chesterfield’s fire chief spoke publicly for the first time about the department’s loss of firefighter Alicia Monahan.

Over the weekend, the 41-year-old died while teaching a water rescue course in North Carolina.

Fire Chief Loy Senter says Monahan went above and beyond throughout her 11-year career. He says she certainly set the bar high for her fellow firefighters.

“We know that it’s going to take a very long time. They will always miss Alicia. They’ll always be missing part of their shift,” Senter said.

She leaves behind two teenage sons and a fiance. Her death came as a surprise to many who saw her as invincible.

“Getting a complete picture, in this case, has been particularly challenging for a few reasons,” Senter said.

On Saturday before her death, Alicia was teaching a water rescue course in Macon County, North Carolina.

At around 2:30 p.m., Alicia was demonstrating techniques in the water.

“After taking approximately five freestyle strokes, the lead instructor and the students noticed that Alicia had suddenly stopped swimming and, for reasons still unknown, was facedown in the water and unresponsive,” Senter said.

They tried to resuscitate her on the scene, but she later died at the hospital.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around something so tragic happening. It’s very hard when that person is a hero in your eyes,” Sunlen Serfaty said.

CNN Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty was Alicia’s close friend. They met over 30 years ago at Clover Hill Elementary School.

“We joked, ‘What are you doing now, Alicia? Are you jumping out of a helicopter? Are you riding down the river? What are you doing?’ She was always doing something adventurous and always doing something to help other people,” Serfaty said.

“Each and every day, she was looking for ways to serve others,” Senter said. “She was just a wonderful person. She was so driven.”

Senter says she went beyond the call, time and time again. She saved many lives on the ground and on the water.

Alicia was the first and only woman to serve on Chesterfield Fire and EMS’s dive team.

“It serves as an example to all of our members that you can achieve greatness if you work at it, and you persevere, and she did,” Senter said.

Alicia was also a certified search and rescue dog handler. She and her dog Chloe would travel far and wide to help search for missing persons.

The fire department says they will never forget Alicia and ensure her family is taken care of.

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