Members of the Oceanside and East Rockaway fire departments, along with scores of friends, admirers and coworkers from around the area and beyond, are mourning the sudden death on Saturday of popular Fox 5 New York cameraman Keith Lane. He was 53.
A 1981 graduate of East Rockaway High School, Lane served in the East Rockaway Fire Department for 10 years, and was a captain before joining the Oceanside F.D., where he served for 23 years.
“No one will ever know or appreciate the love Keith had for the fire service,” said Oceanside Fire Chief JT Madden. “He did more behind the scenes to help promote the volunteer fire service, and he always did so without looking for any credit — and that’s really who Keith was. He was ready to help anyone, and he led an amazing life, which ended way too early. He will be missed.”
“He was such a good guy on so many levels,” added First Assistant Chief Kevin Klein. “His loss to the department is immeasurable, and I am going to really miss him as a friend.”
“For the past 38 years, I was friends with a man who I admired,” said Michaelene Abbott-Cooper, who graduated from high school with Lane. “He had a dream and made it a reality. He saw a lot of places most of us only read about in books. But no matter how far away he was, East Rockaway was always his home.”
Abbott-Cooper said that Lane was there for his community on more than one occasion to “get the story straight and share it with the world. He leaves this earth with his blue shirt untucked. Tonight, Keith, you celebrate your life among some of the best who’ve gone before you. I’ll see you when I get there — I’ll keep a smile in my pocket just for you.”
Dominic Lagudi, who was an Oceanside firefighter before moving upstate, said that Lane had messaged him after he’d gone through the toughest part of his life to see how he was holding up. “Keith was a great man,” Lagudi said. “After my father died in the line of duty, [Lane] was there to be a father figure. He had such a big heart, and cared about so many people before thinking of himself.” Lagudi’s father, Dominic “Bubba” Lagudi Jr., was killed in April 1989 while chief of the Oceanside F.D.
"Street reporting in New York will not be the same without Keith Lane," said NJ Burkett, a correspondent at WABC-TV. "Keith was extraordinarily dedicated to his work, and had an abiding respect for the fundamentals of journalism ... I would like to imagine a heaven where Keith and the late Ronnie Sterckx of WABC-TV are holding court. The stories they would tell. And the laughs they'd both be having — at my expense!"
Lane is survived by a sister, Stacy Lane Navarra, and a daughter, Tara Lane. Services were held at Gutterman’s Funeral Home in Rockville Centre on Tuesday, followed by a burial at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, N.J.
The family requested that donations be made to the Nassau County Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.