'Chicago Fire' 's Yuriy Sardarov Speaks Out About His Departure: 'The Greatest 7 Years of My Life'

The actor who plays Otis on the NBC show spoke out for the first time since the character's death in the season 8 premiere

If you thought you were finished crying over that shocking death in the season 8 premiere of Chicago Fire, think again.

Yuriy Sardarov, the actor who plays Brian “Otis” Zvonecek, posted to Instagram a touching farewell to the character he’s played since the show premiered in 2012.

“Thank you for the greatest 7 years of my life… #ChicagoFireForever,” Sardarov, 31, wrote beside a poem he titled “Adieu” for the fallen fictional firefighter.

“A fond farewell to Otis
he’ll forever be my friend
And to all of you that knew him
and loved him to the end

“He had a bushy mustache
and a soul patch to boot
It’s never really over
he’ll always love you too.”

Yuri Sardarov
Adrian Burrows/NBC

“I’ve known Yuriy since he was a junior in college in Michigan,” showrunner Derek Haas told PEOPLE. “We did a movie together before Chicago Fire and it’s been awesome watching him develop into the actor that he is… It was tough making that call [to kill off Otis], but I knew it was right for the show. I tried to make it not meaningless.”

“I’m not worried about Yuriy because I just know he’s going to go do amazing things and I get to say, ‘Oh, yeah, well he started on Chicago Fire,'” Haas added. “I’m like a proud Papa; I get to watch these things happen.”

Several of Sardarov’s costars have commented as well.

“Love you brother,” Taylor Kinney wrote in the comments of Sardarov’s Instagram post.

“Thank you all so very much for your kind words and b-day wishes,” wrote Joe Minoso, who plays Otis’ best friend and roommate Joe Cruz, alongside an image featuring the Russian phrase that wound up the character’s last words. “But most importantly thank you @yursar for your endless love, your tremendous talent and your unwavering friendship. Our show will never be the same. #brothers #ChicagoFire #RIPOtis.”

“I love you. I miss you,” Kara Killmer wrote in a photo-filled post.

Christian Stolte shared a meme of Otis in the firetruck that read, “Seven years in a truck with this man. Long hours, sweating, freezing, waiting — interminable waiting — building fictional worlds between set-ups, universes held together with comedy, populated with unlikely idiots with bizarre motivations. Laughter so prolonged and intense it often felt like physical brutality. I miss him every day. How lucky I have been. Seven years in a truck with this man.”

Stolte’s caption added, “Rest In Peace, Brian Zvonecek.‬ Long Live Yuriy Sardarov.‬ ‪Love you, my brother.”

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.

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