Springfield, Ore. -- A Eugene wildland firefighter has died after he suffered irreversible brain damage after contracting pneumonia, which became septic.
The family of 20-year-old Eric Aarseth tells ABC News just a day after he came home last Monday he was found unconscious in his apartment. Eric was taken to PeaceHealth Riverbend Hospital in Springfield. Eric's family said they've made the difficult choice to take him off life support.
Kellie Mathews, a spokesperson for Miller Timber services, tells KEZI 9 Eric passed away Monday afternoon.
Eric worked for Miller Timber Service. Mathews said this was Eric’s first year as a firefighter and he battled the Garner Complex Fire in southern Oregon and the Horns Mountain Fire in Washington.
Octavia Nightingale, a family friend, set up a memorial fund on Facebook. She and Eric’s family said they want the money raised to go to help other firefighters who come off the line to make sure they see a doctor before returning home.
“They should be checked. They fight for us, for our land and that should be mandatory,” said Nightingale.
Eric’s family said they don’t blame Miller Timber Service but said having the resources would have saved Eric’s life.
“We’re heartbroken for the family and friends of our firefighter, Eric Aarseth,” said Lee Miller, President of Miller Timber Services in a statement. “It’s devastating to lose any member of our team and Eric seemed to have found his passion and purpose on the fire line.”
“We take our responsibility to our firefighters seriously and I’m confident we did our best for Eric,” Miller said. “In order to ensure we continue to take good care of our employees, we plan to review our training and support materials, fire line resources and protocols.”