MADRAS, Ore. - A public memorial service and procession is planned next Thursday for Jefferson County EMS Chief Don Heckathorn, who died Wednesday evening of injuries suffered in a motorcycle car crash nearly a week earlier.
The announcement came late Friday night from Jefferson County sheriff's Capt. Marc Heckathorn, whose father died Wednesday evening at St. Charles-Bend.
"My father was in public service nearly all of his adult life, in both EMS as a career and as a volunteer reserve officer-deputy with the Madras Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office," Heckathorn wrote.
The service is planned for Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Middle School Gymnasium, 1180 SE Kemper Way in Madras.
Procession staging will begin at noon at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and leave at 2 p.m. It will include EMS, law enforcement, fire departments and motorcycles.
The procession route will be east on Fairgrounds Road to Highway 361, north on Highway 361 to Fifth Street, north on Fifth Street to B Street, then east on B Street to the middle school.
Following the service, friends and family are encouraged to stay for the reception to follow in the middle school commons.
When Jefferson County EMTs rushed to a grisly crash in Madras last Thursday, they didn't know the man clinging to life was one of their own -- a leader they looked up to.
"I think the reality hasn't hit our department yet," Jefferson County Emergency Services Assistant Chief Michael Lepin said Thursday. "It's hit the agency, it's hit the community pretty hard."
Emergency Medical Services Chief Don Heckathorn died at St. Charles-Bend Wednesday evening, surrounded by family and friends, nearly a week after being flown to the hospital.
He sustained critical injuries after his motorcycle was struck by a car that failed to stop at the intersection of SW Dover Lane and Highway 97, just south of Madras last Thursday.
While friends, co-workers and community members mourn Heckathorn's loss, they remember his dedication to saving lives.
"He was one of the few chiefs I know that still conducted a shift -- he enjoyed being a paramedic," Lepin said.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said Heckathorn will be greatly missed in the community.
"He had a passion for it -- he liked to improve the ambulance services," Adkins said.
Lepin is filling in as chief -- but he says Heckathorn is irreplaceable.
"He's helped teach classes, he's helped mentor student paramedics, he's mentored student EMT basics," Lepin said.
Co-workers said he was a leader to many -- and a good friend to those who knew him best.
"When he gets to know you, you can't help but to laugh with him," Lepin said. "But he's the first one to throw his arm around you."
A simple stop sign has changed many lives forever.
Adkins put it this way: "Anybody hearing this needs to think of Don and say, 'Hey, you know what? I am going to stop at a stop sign."'
The Bulletin reported Friday that the driver who allegedly ran the stop sign, Gerald Scott Green, 36, of Prineville, had a record of multiple driving violations, including license suspensions, according to the Oregon Judicial Information Network.
The record shows Green has been convicted of numerous driving offenses, cited eight times between 1995 and 2010 for driving with a suspended license, the newspaper said.
Also during that time, he was convicted of speed racing, driving uninsured and violation of maximum speed in urban areas. His license was revoked multiple times and last reinstated in 2006, according to OJIN.
Adkins said Oregon State Police are investigating the crash and will meet with the district attorney in the near future to discuss any charges against the driver of that car.
Heckathorn comes from a big family of public service officials. His brother served as the county's EMS chief until 2007.