MEDFORD, Ore. — Thursday, September 9 was a day to honor the life and the legacy of a life that was taken far too soon.
The US Forest Service and fire crews from all over the Rogue Valley gathered to honor Frumencio Ruiz Carapia, a Medford man who died while working as a contracted wildland firefighter in Lane County last month. Thursday marked the memorial ceremony before Carapia's body is sent to Querétaro, Mexico, where his mother and brothers live.
Flags flew at half-staff around the state on Thursday in Carapia's honor.
“I'm from Arizona, I didn’t get to meet him — and it hurts just as bad as anybody else here . . . any of these guys would do the same thing for me,” said Jorge Amaya, the liaison to the Ruiz-Carapia family and his employer, GE Forestry.
The 56-year-old Carapia was working along the eastern edge of the Gales Fire in August when he was struck by a falling tree. Though crews immediately tried to help him, Ruiz Carapia succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
“I knew him from a long time ago. We born in the same town in Mexico, and we came to US . . . and we know each other for a long time, we did the same kind of work for over thirty years,” said Esteban Gonzalez, president of GE Forestry.
Friends and family remembered Carapia as a caring, honest, and humble man. On August 26, a procession of firefighters and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies escorted Carapia's body as it was returned to Medford.
“I know the family is really hurting and we will try to help them the best way we can,” Gonzalez said.