New Haven firefighter found dead outside home Sunday morning

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HAMDEN- Police are investigating the death of a New Haven firefighter after she was found unresponsive by a neighbor in front of her home early Sunday morning.

According to Hamden Police, Linda Cohens, 49, was found unresponsive lying face down on a sidewalk around 3 a.m. Sunday on West Helen Street.

Officers responding said it appeared Cohens had suffered a head injury and was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Hamden Police Department Major Crimes Division is now investigating.

Cohens was a member of the New Haven Fire Department for nearly 20 years as a paramedic. She was most recently assigned to the emergency truck of the New Haven Fire Department's Lighthouse Station-- Engine Co. 16, and previously worked at Engine Co. 17.

"She really believed in what she was doing and took her job to heart," said Odell Cohens, Linda's father and a retired New Haven Police officer.

Cohens says his daughter was wearing her medic uniform as she lay injured on the sidewalk in front of her home on West Helen Street. He believes  she slipped and fell after walking her dog  while getting ready for her early morning shift.

Police said she suffered an apparent head injury and that a neighbor found her.  Cohens said he was told by police that his daughter's neighbors were alerted by her barking dog.

"My daughter's dog ran across the street to basically alert them that something was wrong," Cohens said.

Cohens is believed to be one of the first African-American paramedics in the history of the New Haven Fire Department.

New Haven Fire Lieutenant Gary Tinney says Cohens was active in helping  the community and instrumental in helping inner-city kids get involved as paramedics and firefighters.

"She definitely was a pioneer," said Tinney. "She would walk into a room and regardless of who you were and give you a big hug and kiss.  That's the way she greeted everyone."

Cohens leaves behind  her parents, six brothers and sisters, along with  her 5 year old granddaughter Brandy.

Brandy was born months after Cohens' son Brendan was killed by a train in 2008.

"That was her life--- that was basically something  he left for her," said Cohens.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp issued a statement on Cohens death:  "New Haven lost a trusted public servant in Linda Cohens, who was a fine woman and an outstanding firefighter," Mayor Harp said. "I send my personal condolences to her family and join the city's entire public safety family in mourning her untimely passing."

A scholarship fund has been set-up in her Cohens' memory and the New Haven Firefighter's Union created a memorial Facebook page.