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Jun-05-2018 02:14printcomments

Bend Firefighter Killed in Motorcycle Crash with Bear

Tragedy is a reminder of unforeseen risks on the road.

Rhett Larsen
Rhett Larsen was killed Saturday evening in a traffic accident.
Photo: Bend Fire Dept.

(WARM SPRINGS, Ore.) - Saturday evening, the Bend Fire Department (BFD) suffered a tragic loss. Rhett Larsen, a BFD engineer, was killed in crash while traveling home from Portland on Hwy 26.

Preliminary investigation shows that 39-year old Rhett Larsen, an off-duty firefighter from Bend, was riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle eastbound when a large bear ran into his path on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

He was unable to avoid the bear and struck the animal in the eastbound lane.

Larsen was thrown from his motorcycle and then was struck by a westbound Ford SUV pulling a utility trailer driven by 57-year old Margaret Sweo, from Oregon City. Sweo's vehicle traveled off the roadway and rolled onto its side.

Oregon State Police and other emergency personnel were called to the area of milepost 80 on Hwy 26 for the multi-vehicle crash at about 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Larsen suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Sweo was transported by Life Flight to a hospital.

"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," said a release from Bend Firefighters, Local 227.

Oregon State Fire Fighters Council is working closely with Bend Firefighters on arrangements for Rhett’s service.

The bear also died in the collision. The roadway was closed for nearly 6 hours with a detour in place. ODOT and Warm Springs Police Department assisted in the incident.

GoFundMe page to assist Larsen's family:
www.gofundme.com/rhett-larsen-memorial-fund
Another page to help the family:
http://bendfirefighters.org/rhett/

Source: Oregon State Police; Bend Firefighters, Local 227

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.