MERLIN, Ore. – The family of a fire crew member killed Tuesday said he was a leader who was close to becoming an elite firefighter.
Jesse Trader, just 19 years old of Albany, was killed Tuesday while driving a water truck at the Big Windy Fire, burning near Galice. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office said Trader’s water truck rolled on Bear Camp Road, killing Trader.
His parents said Trader was accepted last week into the Fire Protection Program at Chemeketa Community College, and he had planned to someday work for a fire department.
“It was something he had dreamed about, wanting to be a firefighter,” said his father, Ted Trader.
His parents said Trader knew the risks of working on wildfires, but described their son as a leader willing to do what it took to protect people.
“He was excited to come down here and help,” said his mother Gigi Trader. “He wanted to help.”
Trader played football and baseball in high school, and had been recruited to play baseball at Western Oregon University. He finished his freshman year at WOU earlier this summer. His parents said Trader enjoyed being outside with his friends, and loved to water ski and snowboard.
The family said they are planning a memorial service, but have not set a date.