The Oregon wildfire season claimed a second life Tuesday when a water tender being driven by a 19-year-old man from Albany struck an embankment and crashed.
Jesse Trader was helping fight the Big Windy Complex fires in Southern Oregon's Josephine County. His water truck struck an embankment and rolled over and he died in the crash.
Trader graduated from West Albany High School, where he was a standout student and athlete.
Gigi Trader, Jesse's mother, headed to Grants Pass on Tuesday night to retrieve her son's body.
"He was a really great kid and I do want everybody to know what a great kid he was and that he wanted to help people and do great things," she said.
Gigi Trader said her son was scheduled to begin the elite accelerated fire suppression program at Chemeketa Community College in the fall.
His family is missing him most, but there's no shortage of other people who are feeling the loss. West Albany Assistant Principal Rich Engel said Jesse Trader wowed crowds on the baseball diamond at his old school.
"Baseball was definitely his passion and he excelled at it," Engel said.
Western Oregon University recruited Jesse Trader to play college baseball, but his mother said he walked away from the game after his freshman year to focus on firefightering.
"This was his dream job, what he wanted to do," said Gigi Trader. "I'm completely shocked. I don't believe it really happened."
Engel said news spread quickly in the close-knit community and he hoped the outpouring of support would help Jesse Trader's friends and loved ones cope with the loss.
"(He) was a well-thought-of student here at West Albany, very well-liked by his peers, by our staff. This is absolutely devastating news to us," Engel said. "We'd really like to express our condolences to his family and his girlfriend and make sure that they know they're in our thoughts and prayers."
Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
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