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Hundreds honor fallen Jefferson Co. EMS chief

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Aug 22 2013 09:40:23 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent reports on a procession honoring fallen EMS Chief Don Heckathorn.

MADRAS, Ore. -

Hundreds of flashing lights, dozens of vehicles, dozens of uniforms and a somber silence in Madras.

More than 100 first responders across Central Oregon and beyond came together Thursday afternoon to remember one of their own: a procession for fallen Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services Chief Don Heckathorn.

"It's going to be a tear-jerker, probably not a dry eye in the place," said Jefferson Rural Fire District Chief Brian Huff.

It was a formal goodbye to a man who served his community for more than 20 years.

"These agencies throughout Central Oregon, a lot of them do know Don," said Interim Jefferson County EMS Chief Michael Lepin.

Heckathorn died last week, several days after his motorcycle was struck by a car on Highway 97 south of Madras.

Oregon State Police say the driver failed to stop at a stop sign.

But on Thursday, the focus was on a fallen friend, family member and colleague.

From his fellow first responders, to the man who cut his hair -- it's a community-wide loss.

"Working as the EMT, he helped out hundreds, thousands of people in our community. He had a servant's heart for sure," said barber Nick Bowlby.

Community members were easing the pain by honoring his memory.

"I'm very proud of the community, to come together and helping out his family in a time of need," Bowlby said.

The procession was followed by a memorial service at the Jefferson County Middle School.

District Attorney Steve Leriche said Oregon State Police are still investigating the crash and no charges have been filed against the driver of the car.

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