One of the many tributes posted online today by firefighting corporations

Young firefighter killed on busy motorway in tragic gesture of humanity

A young firefighter and mother was killed over the weekend in a tragic gesture of humanity.

31-year-old Catarina Pedro was returning home from the hospital with her two young children on Saturday night when she saw a car “lose control and crash violently into a side barrier”, writes Correio da Manhã.

“Without hesitation, Catarina stopped her car, turned on the hazard lights and got out to place the emergency triangle” on the tarmac behind her.

“When she approached the car that had crashed into the barrier, a third vehicle hit the car in which her children were seated” presumably pushing it into Catarina who “had no chance to react”.

The young mother died off-duty doing what she had been trained to do: help others, says the tabloid.

Firefighters called to the scene were stunned to discover one of their own lifeless on the asphalt.

The children also suffered light injuries, as did the driver of the third vehicle.

All the victims of this tragedy were transported to hospital; none with more than light physical injuries.

The mental implications however are incalculable.

With an inquiry now ongoing into how the accident happened (why did the third vehicle hit Catarina’s car?), the official website of the President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has posted: “It was with profound consternation that the President of the Republic learnt of the death of firefighter Catarina Pedro, of the Carnaxide corporation of volunteer firefighters… Even off-duty, (she) didn’t hesitate to help her fellow citizen, being a national example of generosity and altruism”.

Jaime Marta Soares, president of the firefighters’ league, was a little less diplomatic. He said: “This young woman left everything – including her own children in the car – to help someone. This shows unequivocally what makes a Portuguese firefighter. Another person didn’t stop and took her life. This is shocking”.

With her colleagues flying the national flag at half-mast in her memory, Catarina’s children have apparently been placed with her mother for the time being (suggesting the firefighter was a single parent, as well as a selfless human being).

Reporting on the tragedy, tabloid Correio da Manhã reveals eight people lost their lives on Portugal’s roads last weekend: two as a result of being run over.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com