UFA (Utah ) Firefighter Killed in accident
Co-workers mourn loss of UFA firefighter killed in wreck
PARLEYS CANYON — Few men can boast they'd forgo a six-figure salary to work 24-hour shifts as a firefighter.
Even fewer could probably say they gave up work as a corporate attorney because they wanted to help people.
But that's what Bruce McGowan was like.
The 45-year-old man was described as a dedicated firefighter and a man who went against the grain to do what he thought was right.
His admirable personality made it all the more difficult to say goodbye to the four-year veteran of Unified Fire Authority when he was killed in a rollover accident in Parleys Canyon on Saturday night.
Reynolds explained how he learned more from McGowan than the firefighter learned from him.
McGowan believed in "living life to the fullest," Reynolds said.
So much so that he ran a marathon in Colorado with just one day of training.
McGowan had always stayed in shape, but even Taylor was surprised when he walked in on McGowan running on a treadmill and his coworker explained he was getting ready to run a marathon…the next day.
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Department of Public Safety
Accident scene along I-80 in Parleys Canyon where a man died from injuries Saturday evening.
"He decided the day before he would train for it," Taylor recalled. "And he decided he would pick one of the hardest ones, the Pikes Peak Marathon. People don't just get up and run a marathon. But he did."
UFA members arrived at the accident scene with broken hearts, knowing that McGowan was the victim.
"I've been training recruits for years," Reynolds said. "I've trained thousands of firefighters but he sticks out."
Officials are still investigating the accident and the driver of the Jeep, who they declined to identify, has not been cited. The Jeep's driver had been drinking alcohol but not enough to charge him with driving under the influence, Moren said. Troopers also drew blood from the driver for toxicology tests.
"Preliminary indications (for why the Jeep crossed into the opposite lanes) lead investigators to believe it was more likely operator error and not anything wrong with the vehicle," Hyer said.
Troopers restated the need for motorists to slow down when driving in Parley's Canyon in light of Saturday's tragic accident.
"He definitely taught me to live life to its fullest. Life is short," Reynolds said. "He marched to the beat of a different drummer, but it was for the common good."
McGowan was heading home after a partial shift at the Magna station when the accident occurred. He was heading east on I-80 through Parleys Canyon just after 8:30 p.m. when a westbound Jeep Cherokee crossed over the median into the eastbound lanes and collided with McGowan's vehicle in the Lamb's Canyon area. The driver of the Jeep, a man in his early 20s from the Salt Lake Valley area, suffered minor injuries, but McGowan died at the scene.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the accident, but Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Bryan Hyer said investigators believe the driver of the Jeep was going about 80 mph.
Friends and co-workers of McGowan were in shock and mourning Sunday, trying to come to terms with the loss of a man who gave his life to help others.
"I haven't had the chance to really process it since the phone call (Saturday) night," said UFA Battalion Chief Greg Reynolds, who was McGowan's training officer when he went through training six years ago.
McGowan, who lived in Midway with his wife and two young children, was well-liked and well-respected among UFA fire crew members and officials. But according to Reynolds, he was more than that.
The Midway man lived on a beach in Mexico for two months and even worked on a shrimp boat for a while. And despite a law degree and several years working as a corporate attorney, McGowan gave up the career because "he wanted to give back."
"He wanted to be a fireman. He thought that was a much more noble profession than being an attorney," Reynolds said. "He thought that some attorneys could be dirt bags and that he wasn't really helping people. He wanted to give back."
Coworkers said McGowan could also be a real character.
UFA Capt. Brad Taylor shared an experience when he ordered McGowan a new nametag and accidentally ordered it for "McCowman."
"They sent it out as Bruce McCowman and Bruce took the fall for it," Taylor said. "He wasn't in too much trouble for it and laughed about the error. And whenever we worked together, he would wear that nametag."