Citizens salute fallen firefighter

A small flag was placed in the fence on the Carrol Canyon Road walkway overlooking I-15 as a crowd waited for a procession carrying the body of fallen firefighter Cory Iverson. (photos by John Gregory)

Citizens salute fallen firefighter

Numerous citizens, many being Scripps Ranch residents, along with firefighters and law enforcement officers, turned out by the dozens along I-15 Sunday afternoon, Dec. 17, to pay their respects to Cory Iverson, a CalFire engineer from San Diego County who was killed while fighting the monstrous Thomas wildfire that is still burning in Venture and Santa Barbara counties.

A five-hour procession carrying Iverson’s body made its way from the Ventura County Medical Center down I-15 into San Diego County where it turned onto the ramp at Pomerado Road and Miramar Road, heading west on Miramar Road on its final leg to El Camino Memorial Park.

About 85 people lined up along the northern walkway of the bridge above I-15 on Carroll Canyon Road on Sunday afternoon to view the procession below. Several firefighting vehicles were parked along the street, some with flags waving on poles. Many of those in the crowd carried U.S. flags and some wore clothing with the stars and stripes.

Scripps Ranch residents Ronald and Harriet Hoppenstand were among those waiting to pay their respects.

Ronald and Harriet Hoppenstand, two Scripps Ranch residents, were there to honor Iverson.

“We just want to pay our respects,” Ronald said. “We have a really good friend at CalFire. He knew him.”

The couple have a special appreciation for the job firefighters are tasked with, they said. Their home was saved in the devastating Cedar Fire in 2003 that destroyed 312 homes in Scripps Ranch.

“It was only two blocks away from our house,” Ronald said.

“A good friend of ours, their son is in CalFire and worked with Cory,” Harriet explained. “It’s heartbreaking for a young man like that, with a young family, to die.”

Meanwhile, a sizeable crowd gathered on the corner where an off-ramp from I-15 turns onto Miramar Road. Regular citizens mixed with firefighters from different agencies. Children and pets were among those in the crowd. One small youngster, escorted by adults wearing CalFire T-shirts, was dressed in his own tiny firefighting coat and hat.

This was the turnoff point for the motorcade from the interstate. Police cars were staged in the middle of the street and CalFire vehicles lined the offramp, all with lights flashing. The police cars took off down Miramar Road minutes before the procession arrived, clearing intersections of traffic all along Miramar Road toward the cemetery.

Lines of police officers and CalFire personnel stood at attention beside their vehicles as the procession came near. Sirens filled the air as California Highway Patrol officers on motorcycles sped off the freeway, around the ramp and west down Miramar Road. CalFire vehicles followed and a black hearse near the front of the convoy came into view. More firefighting vehicles followed. Citizens held flags high and stood reverently along the street as the procession passed. The motorcade wasted no time as it swiftly moved past.

Cory Iverson was working as part of a strike team from San Diego called up to fight the Thomas Fire. Autopsy reports indicate that he died from burns and smoke inhalation. Iverson worked as a CalFire engineer and was stationed in Dulzura. He and his wife, Ashley, have a young daughter and Ashley is pregnant with their second child. A GoFundMe page has been set up to benefit Iverson’s family:

About 85 people and several emergency vehicles lined the northern bridge above I-15 on Carroll Canyon Road.
Children were included in a sizeable crowd gathered on the corner to view the procession where an off-ramp from I-15 turns onto Miramar Road.
A youngster was dressed in his own tiny firefighting coat and hat to honor the fallen hero.
Firefighters stood at attention and saluted beside their vehicles as the procession passed by them.
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