BEND, OR -- The off-duty firefighter killed when his motorcycle collided with a large black bear on Highway 26 came home in a silent procession of local emergency vehicles, Monday. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says it's an honor typically reserved for firefighters killed in the line of duty, "But, he’s an active member of a fire department – a member in good standing. So, there are certain honors that go with that."
Rhett Larsen died Saturday in Wasco County. As the large string of cars and trucks from Bend Fire, Bend Police, the city of Bend, Oregon State Police, Redmond Fire and others made the trip from The Dalles to Bend, they were greeted by members of other police and fire agencies lining portions of the route and drove under a large American flag draped from the overpass at Deschutes Junction. Click HERE
to view a video of the procession.
Howe tells KBND News Larsen's body hasn't been alone, "One of the traditions of the fire service is that we stay with our fallen comrade until the memorial service. So, Mid-Columbia Fire District in The Dalles, one of them was always assigned to stay with Rhett." And, now that he's back in Bend, "He will be attended by a Fire Department person for the time being." He says firefighters will stand vigil at the funeral home until the memorial service, which is still being planned.
Aside from a 16-year career with Bend Fire
, Larsen had deep connections in the community. And, Howe says, the community is grieving along with the department, "We’re eternally grateful to all the people who have sent their condolences in person, by phone, by email and by social media." He adds, "We have had a lot of people send their condolences, send flowers and just express their sorrow to us and the family; and the family is the most important piece." A GoFundMe page
has also been created to help Larsen's family.
Photos: (Top) A large line of local emergency vehicles leaves Redmond on its way to Bend.
(Upper Right) Bend Police and Fire personnel line the Empire Ave. overpass, waiting for the procession to pass underneath.
(Above) The body of Rhett Larsen receives a hero's welcome as it arrives at a Bend Fire station.
UPDATE 06/06/18: Bend Fire released the following information regarding Larsen's funeral, planned for Sunday:
To honor and remember the fallen Bend Fire Department firefighter, Rhett Larsen, who died in a tragic vehicle accident last Saturday, there will be a memorial service at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on Sunday, June 10, at 3pm.
The Bend Fire and Police Departments are collaborating to plan a meaningful service in the finest traditions of the American Fire Service, at all times honoring the wishes of the immediate family.
The Bend Fire Department is deeply grateful to those who have sent their condolences and support. The memorial service will be open to the public, as a dignified and fitting way for our community to bid farewell to a dedicated firefighter and friend.
For those who wish to help support the Larsen family, there is an account established for this purpose. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/rhett-larsen-memorial-fund Please note that is the only authorized donation site for the family.