Orlando victim hailed a hero

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Two honors were bestowed Saturday at the funeral for Cory Connell, one of the 49 people killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting a week ago.

Connell, 21, died at the Pulse nightclub while protecting his girlfriend. He was a college student who wanted to become a firefighter and could have achieved his dream, said Lori Clay of the Orange County Fire Department.

Clay said she warned Connell that firefighters worked long hours for low pay.

“He smiled with that smile that I will always remember about him and he said, ‘No, I don’t care about the money.’ He said, ‘I want to do it because I want to save people, I want to help people,'” Clay said. “That made me know that kid would be a firefighter some day.”

With that, the Orange County Fire Department named Connell an honorary firefighter. First responders lined the walls of the West Orlando Baptist Church.

The second honor came when one of Connell’s sisters, Ashley, announced during her eulogy that she and her fiancĂ© would name their baby after Cory. The crowd audibly gasped.

The child is expected next month. She said they just decided and hadn’t even told her parents yet.

“Mom and Dad, I hope you don’t mind,” she said.

Joel Rayon Paniagua, Luis Vielma, Stanley Almodovar III and Antonio Davon Brown also were buried Saturday. Two funerals were held Friday.

Deputies injured

Two Osceola County sheriff’s deputies escorting a funeral procession for one of the victims were injured Saturday when a motorist cut into the procession around noon Saturday in Kissimmee, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said.

The deputies were on motorcycles at the time of the crash and both were transported to a local hospital, Montes said. One deputy was in serious but stable condition and the second was in stable condition.

“An impatient driver cut the funeral procession as the procession was heading to the gravesite,” Montes said.