Retired San Diego Fire-Rescue Captain remains in critical condition, family pleading with public for help

Retired Captain Edward Cardenas served 41 years with San Diego Fire-Rescue. He was badly burned in a car accident last fall.

SAN DIEGO — Retired San Diego Fire-Rescue Captain Edward Cardenas spent more than four decades serving the community. Now, his family is asking the community for help.

In November 2023, Cardenas suffered a heart attack and crashed his vehicle at their home in Tierrasanta. According to his family, he was unconscious with his foot still on the gas. The vehicle hit a fence, and then a trailer, which erupted in flames. Cardenas was trapped inside the burning vehicle. Neighbors rushed to help save him.

He survived but suffered burns on nearly 40% of his body. According to his family, he remains in critical condition at the UC San Diego Regional Burn Center. 

“I feel like my life is crumbling,” said Cardenas’ daughter, Claudia Rempel. “My dad is taking five steps forward, three steps back. We want to have hope, we have faith, and we pray.”

They launched a GoFundMe page to help cover costly medical treatment, specialized care, rehabilitation and long-term physical, psychological and emotional support.

Cardenas retired in 2021. He was also an active member of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force where he supported many rescue efforts, including deploying to New York City in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.