September 1, 2017

Gary Helming - Fire Fighter Fatality - Los Padres National Forest - California

Firefighter Gary Helming, age 47, died on August 31, 2017, in Kings County, California. 
Gary Helming

Firefighter Helming was a Battalion Chief with the Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest - Santa Lucia District, based at Santa Maria. He had 22 years of service with the Forest Service.

At about 8:30 a.m., Gary was returning home from working the Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest. A vehicle travelling in the opposite direction blew a tire and swerved into Gary's vehicle head-on. 

Tragically, Gary succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the other vehicle, Antonio Avalos, age 25, of Santa Maria, was severely injured and was flown by helicopter to a local hospital. 

Florian, Patron Saint of
Firefighters, pray for Gary
and for those who
have lost him. 
Gary first started working for the Forest Service more than two decades ago as a seasonal firefighter. He worked other agencies before returning to the Forest Service to serve as Battalion Chief in 2013 in Santa Maria.

Gary's firefighting comrades are in mourning over the death of their brother. Forest Service officials stated that Gary was a professional and a tremendous leader. He was thoughtful, a team player and an honorable man. He will be forever remembered.

Gary's loved ones are devastated over his sudden and tragic death. He was loved. He did his best. He will be forever mourned.

Gary is survived by many loving comrades, friends and family members including his wife and three children.

Thank you for your service, Gary.

Pray for all who die by misadventure. They are with us one moment and are gone before we can say goodbye.

Pray that Gary is in Heaven. Pray that he is at peace and is with God. Amen.

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