Local firefighters meet procession of firefighters, motorcyclists escorting the body of Rhett Larsen, 39, back to Bend.

PHOTO BY LINDA LARSON - An Oregon State Police officer on a motorcycle leads the procession of police and firefighters escorting the body of Rhett Larsen back to Bend. Larsen died Saturday night in a collision with a bear on U.S. Highway 26, on the Warm Springs Reservation. Local firefighters participated and paid their respect to the firefighter. 
A motorcyclist, Rhett Larsen, 39, of Bend, died Saturday evening on U.S. Highway 26, about 22 miles northwest of Warm Springs, when he struck a bear.

Oregon State Police were called to a multi-vehicle crash around 7 p.m. June 2, near milepost 80, on the Warm Springs Reservation.

Investigators determined that Larsen, a Bend firefighter, was eastbound when he hit a large bear that had run onto the road, killing the bear.

As a result of the collision, Larsen was thrown from his motorcycle onto the road, where he was struck by a westbound Ford SUV, pulling a utility trailer. Larsen was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Ford, Margaret Sweo, 57, of Oregon City, was injured when her vehicle left the road and rolled onto its side. She was flown by Life Flight to a hospital.

The highway was closed for about six hours following the accident. OSP was assisted by the Warm Springs Police Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

On Sunday, June 3, Bend Firefighters Local 227 issued a statement about Larsen, an engineer with the Bend Fire Department:

"Rhett was not only an exceptional firefighter, he was a loyal friend, respected mentor, and loving father. The loss of such a fun-loving, energetic soul is felt deeply by both the Bend Fire Department and the Bend community."

The Oregon State Fire Fighters Council was working with Bend Firefighters on arrangements for Larsen's service.

On Monday, June 4, a procession of firefighters in firefighting apparatus and duty rigs, and a large group of motorcyclists, traveled from The Dalles, escorting Larsen's body back to a Bend funeral home.

Jefferson County Fire Chief Brian Huff, who knew Larsen, met with the procession at the north end of the district.

"We had also had an engine in the procession and we had a ladder truck staged on Fourth and D Street with staff and volunteers," said Capt. Kasey Skaar, of the JCFD. A Culver engine with volunteers was stationed off Highway 361, at U.S. Highway 97, on the south end of the district to pay respect to Larsen.

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