Funeral arrangements have been set for Blount County Rescue Squad Assistant Chief John Yu, whopassed away in his home Saturday.
The receiving of friends will take place Thursday, May 31 from 4:00 - 8:00 pm at Rose Mortuary, 6200 Kingston Pike in Knoxville.
The funeral service will take place on Friday, June 1 at 10:30 am at All Saints Catholic Church, 620 N. Cedar Bluff Rd in Knoxville.
The graveside service will follow at Grandview Cemetary in Maryville, 2304 Tuckaleechee Pike.
Blount County Rescue Squad Assistant Chief John Yu passed away in his home Saturday.
He was 56. The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed.
Yu served on the leadership team at BCRS since 2006, most recently serving as assistant chief since 2010.
"Certainly everyone within our agency and the community are devastated," said BCRS Chief Keith Sartin. "John was an integral part of the rescue community not only within our agency, but among other agencies in Knoxville and throughout the region. We've lost a trusted partner and a friend. This is going to be a struggle for all of us."
Yu was also a volunteer member of the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad, Inc., for 29 years.
He served as chief from 1992 to 1993 and again from 2003 to 2005.
"A servant-leader," is how friend and fellow volunteer Knoxville Rescue Squad Lieutenant Mark Walker remembers Yu. "He's the reason that I joined."
Selfless, compassionate, and inspiring, are all words used by Yu's rescue colleagues to describe him.
But he's also stood by those in crisis during the darkest moments of their lives.
Kristie Cook is one of those people.
"John was the chief of the rescue squad when my ex-husband jumped off the South Knoxville River with my little 20-month old baby William," explains Cook.
It happened Christmas day 2003. It was several weeks later before both bodies were recovered, and Cook says Yu toiled tirelessly to bring closure to her family.
She also recollects a moment of genuine compassion.
Yu brought her then 12-year-old son along on one of the missions to search for his father's body.
"He made Bradley feel like he was a part of the search, a part of putting closure to that part of our lives, to find the person that scared us the most," says Cook. "Most people wouldn't have done that."
She says Yu also inspired her to become a paramedic and join the rescue squad. She also raised $25,000 to help buy the squad a sonar device to aid future water recovery efforts.
Walker remembers a similarly moving anecdote.
"We were bringing the person out of the water, which was a recovery. He stopped the situation and we had a prayer right there for that person. That's what John was about," says Walker.
Blount County Rescue Squad Deputy Chief Ed Wolff remembers the comfort of seeing Yu on a scene.
"I looked around, who was there? John Yu," recollects Wolff. "Didn't matter what time of day or night it was. If there was a call, you knew looking over your shoulder or standing beside you was John."
He says one of his friend's greatest passions was teaching. "He loves to help people learn to help other people," says Wolff.
He says Yu was a prominent water and car rescue instructor throughout the southeast.
They all credit Yu with getting them through the tough times. "He and the other rescue squad members were there at a time in my life that was horrible," says Cook.
"I could say very easily that I could trust my life with him, and I did many times," says Walker.
And left he helped leave them with words to work by.
"One team, one mission, that others may live," recites Wolff. "He actually helped us coin the phrase."
Yu also served as a past member of the Board of Directors and Water Rescue Team Captain.
He was instrumental in the development of the KVERS Support Team and swift water response capabilities.
"It was a great shock to learn this evening that John Yu has passed. John was a longtime friend and member of the Knoxville Rescue Squad," Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad Chief Bob Swabe said.
"He was a dedicated and tireless worker in the Rescue Squad community, and spent many hours training and sharing his expertise of rescue techniques with other responders; not only to the Knoxville Rescue Squad, but to emergency responders throughout the region. When help was needed, it was common for John to be first on the scene and the last to leave."
Yu was an active board member, director, instructor and trainer, and mentor for the Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
He also served as lead medical supervisor and one of the founding program creators for the First Aid Station Program at Neyland Stadium, supporting the University of Tennessee and Volunteers.
He was a life member of both the Alabama and Virginia Tech Association of Rescue Squads.
In 1996, Yu was recognized for his contributions to the community and had the privilege of running the torch for the U. S. Olympics. There is no word yet on funeral arrangements.