Body of Fallen Firefighter Chief Burchett Back in Utah
Aug 16, 2018, 12:33 AM | Updated: 1:31 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A procession that crossed states and brought a fallen hero home: the body of Draper City Battalion Chief Matt Burchett is back in Utah.
The procession started Wednesday evening in Mendocino, California where Burchett’s casket was draped with the American flag.
The casket was brought to the airport, and dozens of firefighters gathered to give a final salute.
Burchett’s casket was loaded onto a military jet where he started his final journey back to Utah.
Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett arrives in Salt Lake City
Once Burchett’s casket landed in Utah – a procession across the valley attracted those who knew and loved him and those who wanted to say ‘thank you’.
Procession for Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett in California
At 700 West and overlooking I-215, Junior Quintana gathered with his family.
“Matt and I worked in the wildland division for 16 years,” Quintana told KSL-TV. “I feel sadness more than anything. These wildland firefighters need more appreciation when they are alive, when they are sacrificing so much.”
“He was an awesome leader, an all-around good guy,” Quintana said. “I learned a lot from him.”
Dozens of firefighters saluted as the procession passed 700 West.
Trent Hutchings, Lehi firefighter and paramedic, said the scene was somber and one he will never forget.
“I have been in communication with a few of those who were on the line with Burchett from the Pleasant Grove Fire Department. They were battling that same wildland fire,” Hutchings said. “I feel so sad for his family and for the Draper Fire Department.”
Procession arrival at South Jordan funeral home
Lehi firefighters shut down one of their fire stations for the night, so that emergency responders could represent and give Chief Burchett a proper thank you during the procession.
There are three fire stations in Lehi.
But the family of firefighters stretched beyond country borders. A group of firefighters from Zacatecas, Mexico was attending a training in Sandy, Utah. They heard of Chief Burchett’s unexpected death, and they made their way to the overpass to honor and support their fallen brother.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from – or your nationality – this brotherhood is felt everywhere,” Hutchings said.
Family statement from Firefighter Jay Torgersen
In addition to those who knew and cared about Burchett, there were dozens in the crowd who simply came to pay their respects.
Abby Gruis, 15, came to the overpass because she has been shaken watching fire coverage.
“I feel so thankful for these brave firefighters,” Gruis said. “I just feel inspired to do more. I am not sure what that looks like yet, so I am here to show I am grateful for Burchett’s sacrifice.”