LA GRANDE, Ore. (AP) - A year after their deaths, contract
firefighters including two from Idaho are being remembered by
family and friends for the contributions they made to their
communities.
"Their lives were short, but those lives were very important to
us," said Mark Schlessman, minister at La Grande's First Christian
Church.
Jacob Martindale, 20, of Boise and Zachary Zigich, 18, of Twin
Falls were on their way to a major wildfire in Colorado last June
21 when the van they were in overturned. They were killed along
with Retha Shirley, 19, of La Grande, Ore., and Daniel Rama, 28,
Bartholomew Bailey, 20, both of Baker City.
During a weekend memorial service, all five were remembered in
song, prayers and stories after members of the Oregon National
Guard raised the flag to open the gathering.
Taylin Rama, younger sister to Daniel Rama, sang a song for her
brother, and Jacob Martindale's father remembered that his son's
smile had brought life to a room.
A memorial park in honor of the five firefighters is planned
near the La Grande Fire Station, said John Schuyler, deputy forest
supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
The five were working for private contractor Grayback Forestry
and were headed to the Hayman fire near Denver when the accident
occurred.
The firefighters' 15-passenger van veered off the road near
Parachute, Colo., and rolled several times. The driver, Megan Helm
of La Grande, pleaded guilty in February in a Colorado court to
careless driving. She was fined $200 and sentenced to 50 hours of
community service.
Some of the families have sued Ford Motor Co., alleging the van
involved was defectively dangerous and the company failed to warn
consumers about known problems.
Each of the lawsuits filed in Multnomah County seeks between
$1.8 million and $9.8 million in damages.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)