OKANOGAN – Ashes of fallen Okanogan firefighter Christian Johnson were brought to town Oct. 12 and a memorial service is being planned for Oct. 24.
A procession of first responders brought the assistant chief’s ashes from Bothell to Okanogan on Saturday. First responders in multiple communities along the route paid respects as the procession passed.
Johnson suffered lung damage and was burned over 60 percent of his body in the Sept. 1 Spring Coulee Fire southwest of town. He was flown from the scene to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and spent the next month undergoing skin graft surgeries.
He died Oct. 2.
The main procession included five Washington State Patrol troopers on motorcycles, two Okanogan Fire Department/Fire District No. 3 trucks and the chief’s vehicle, a Malott Fire Department truck, two LifeLine Ambulance vehicles and an Omak Police Department car driven by Officer Gary Miller with Jerod Gavin, an Omak officer and Okanogan Fire Chief, as passenger.
“They were asking for assistance and we sent a car to show our respects,” said Omak Police Chief Jeff Koplin. “A lot of agencies participated along the way.”
The procession crossed Snoqualmie Pass and then Blewett Pass before heading up the Columbia and Okanogan valleys. Once in Okanogan, the contingent passed through downtown at the tail end of Okanogan Harvest Festival, allowing community members to pay their respects.
Okanogan County Emergency Management issued social media updates on the procession’s progress.
Behind the Badge, a group that assists with law enforcement agencies, families and communities after an officer has died or suffered serious injury in the line of duty, is planning the Oct. 24 memorial service at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex. The time has not been announced.
“Planning per the family wishes is in process,” said Behind the Badge line of duty death response team spokesman Kyle Foreman of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. “More information will be released as we draw closer.”