‘Out of Respect’
Procession honors fallen firefighter who was Toivola native
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — A procession of fire trucks from throughout the Copper Country accompanied the body of a firefighter originally from Toivola killed while fighting a wildfire in Oregon.
Collin Hagan was 27 when he was fatally injured while working to put out the Big Swamp Fire near Oakridge, Oregon. He was working with the Craig, Colorado-based Interagency Hotshot Team.
The procession carried Hagan from the Houghton County Memorial Airport to Memorial Chapel Funeral and Cremation, where it arrived after 9 p.m.
The 15-person Bureau of Land Management honor guard helped arrange Hagan’s final flight home, as well as helped the family plan their events. Members loaded his casket from the aircraft into the hearse, and escorted his family at the front of the procession back to the funeral home.
“Most of us are just here as a means of giving back to our fire community, in one of the only ways we can at a time like this,” said honor guard member Will Chatham.
The line of fire trucks far back snaked around the airport parking lot.
“It’s a close-knit community,” said Otter Lake Fire Chief Anders Kallungi. “It’s a large area, but the people stick together.”
More people waited near Santori’s Corner in Hancock.
Michele Harma, secretary at Jeffers High School, came out to pay her respects. She remembered him as a good kid who was quiet, smart and loved skateboarding.
“He’s one of our students,” she said. “It’s hard to come from a small school and lose one of ours.”
The Dollar Bay Fire Department stood along the road with an American flag. Dollar Bay firefighter Rich Carne knew Hagan from playing hockey with his dad on Thursday nights. And he liked Hagan too, who he remembered as a nice kid and an unselfish player.
“He never swore,” he said. “And he was a great hockey player … the guys who would never score, he would set them up so they could score.”
For Carne’s part, “you’ve got to do things for your friends,” he said. But the bonds between community members, or firefighters, brought out even more.
“They just came out of respect,” Carne said. “Look at all the fire trucks that showed up.”