On-duty firefighter dies in car crash in Coos County

COOS COUNTY, Ore. – The Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest announced Saturday that an on-duty firefighter, 21-year-old Benjamin Charles Sapper, was lost in a car accident on Friday.

The U.S. Forest Service said the firefighter was traveling with his work crew north of Powers. When their pickup truck left the roadway, Sapper was critically injured and passed away.

Local fire and law enforcement formed a small procession to escort Sapper to the local funeral home. Local firefighters are standing vigil with their fallen until they can be transported home.

Sapper who was originally from Boulder, Colorado, was working as a first-year hand crew member in the Gold Beach Ranger District.
The U.S. Forest Service says, “Sapper graduated from Boulder High School and the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics. Benjamin was an avid baseball player and skier. Sapper joined the Forest Service out of a desire to serve the community and be part of a great team. Benjamin was looking forward to starting graduate school this Fall at the University of British Columbia in Earth Sciences. He was truly loved and will be missed.”

“Our fallen has not been alone and he won’t be alone until he is laid to rest. We have a family liaison that’s in constant contact with the parents and we will carry out what their wishes are as far as honoring the fallen,” said Alex Robertson, Director of Fire and Aviation for the U.S. Forest Service.

Robertson said the job comes with a lot of risks, and he asks people to practice fire safety to keep human-caused fires at a minimum, reducing risks to firefighters.

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