Updated: Sunday, September 1 2013, 12:04 AM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. – Thursday night Darren Manzella was in a minor car accident on I-490. He got out of his car and was pushing it to the side of the interstate when he was hit and killed by an SUV.
“When I first heard that he had gotten out of his car to move it, to move it off the roadway I thought, that’s Darren,” said Steve Ralls, Manzella’s friend and former publicist. “He’s trying to make sure no one else gets hurt.”
Selfless, is how Darren Manzella’s friend and former publicist Steve Ralls described him during a phone interview on Saturday.
It’s a trait Ralls said Manzella has had since he met him in 2007.
That’s when Manzella, as an active duty U.S. Army sergeant, volunteered to say he was gay on national television.
“He wanted to make sure that the service members who followed him or came after him in the U.S. Military would not have to serve in silence,” said Ralls.
Manzella was discharged in 2008 for the interview.
But when ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was repealed, he enlisted as an army reservist.
“He definitely had service and honor and all of those military creeds and principals not just as words but really as part of his blood,” said Ralls.
And it’s where he left his legacy.
“It really is hard, we’re all a brotherhood so when you lose one everyone loses it’s like losing a part of ourselves,” said Air Force Veteran Paul Hood.
Hood didn’t know Manzella but he said his willingness to speak out helped change the United States Military for the better.
Manzella was recently married on July 5th.
He also worked at the Veterans Crisis Center at the Canandaigua VA.
Friends Remember Darren Manzella