Brent Michael Witham

Brent Michael Witham

Firefighter Brent Michael Witham, age 29, of the USDA Forest Service, San Bernadino National Forest, was struck and killed by a falling tree while working the Lolo Peak Fire in western Montana on August 2, 2017.

Mark A. Loutzenhiser

Mark A. Loutzenhiser

Submitted by his Wife

Mark served 21 years with the Forest Service; which included the Vista Grande HotShots‚ Keenwild Helibase‚ as Captain of Engine 57 and 54;as well as the C&M person during the winter season. Mark knew just about every one in the fire prevention office‚ etc‚ etc and not just only in his own District but in all our neighboring Districts/Regions.

Mark coached volleyball for our local elementery school. He also coached his children in basketball for our local Town Hall Recreation Program for many years. This basketball season was going to be the season he would have been coaching his twin boys for the first time in their pro career of age 8.

Mark was not only with us at the games in spirit but in our hearts and in my own two eyes. I had the honor to see for the both of us. He had to have been very pleased without a doubt!

Mark loved airplanes. In fact‚ he was putting together‚ I believe for the second time‚ his very large and costly model airplane. He would do this with his friends.

Mark’s wish was to be a part of the airbase in SB(Ryan?). In fact‚ he was bummed out because just two days beford they told him that he couldn’t work down there for lack of funds or room‚ I CAN’T REMEMBER FOR SURE – for this is the time I wish I could of remembered every word he said to me that week.

Mark has left not only his mom and dad‚ [I WILL USE THE FUNERAL PART OF FAMILY] /

Mark is not only proud to be a part of our wonderful town of Idyllwild. Apart from a world of stangers; yet willing to call‚ send gifts‚ send a letter‚ and as important as all the rest‚ the prayers prayed on behalf of us‚ from all around the world has given him and allowed him to be able to rest in peace. This is due to the care‚ love‚ the giving of all types; a dedicated & loving desire to care‚ protect‚ and secure the one and only most important love in his life-his children‚ his wife of 13 years-15 years total‚ and his parents & siblings; and the families of his crew and his other extended but as close his working buddies and Volleyball friends.

Thanking God for you all is what he is doing now and what we (his & my family) will do every day!

Submitted by a Friend

Mark started with the forest service at age 18. He served 25 years.

He enjoyed being the Adult Volleyball Coordinator for the Town Hall in Idyllwild; coaching the Town Hall youth Basketball team and being the Assistant Coach for the Idyllwild Elementary Girls Middle School Volleyball Team.

He is survived by his wife Maria; sons Jacob‚ Seth‚ and Kyle; and daughters Tesha and Savanah.

Submitted by a USDA Forest Service Family Liaison

Captain Mark Loutzenhiser was one of five firefighters killed while protecting a structure on the Esperanza Fire‚ October 26‚ 2006. Mark started his career with the Forest Service at the age of 18.

When he wasn’t working‚ Mark enjoyed being the Adult Vollyball Coordinator for the Town Hall in Idyllwild‚ coaching the Town Hall Youth Basketball League‚ and being the Assistant Coach for the Idyllwild Elementary Girls Middle School Vollyball Team. Mark is survived by his loving wife Maria; son Jacob; daughters Tesha and Savanah; and twin sons Seth and Kyle; parents Russell and Pauline; sisters and brothers-in-laws Cheryl & Howard Brown and their children; Beth & Steve Pachman and their children; brother and sister-in-law Michael & Sue Loutzenhiser.

Mark devoted his life to his five children and their sports activities. He is a beloved member and respected Captain of the San Jacinto Ranger District’s Fire Staff.

Jason R. McKay

Jason R. McKay

Submitted by his Mother

Jason had 5 years with the USFS. Before that he was a Mojave Green. He earned an Associate Degree at Victor Valley College in Fire Technology taking every course they had to offer pertaining to fire. He was an EMT. From the age of 14‚ he was a Fire Explorer at the Adelanto City Fire Department where he did numerous volunteer works such as the Christmas toy give away to the needy children‚ the annual Haunted House‚ and the Adelanto Grand Prix. All during this time excepting every challenge that was offered with a determination of having to be the best.

He earned Honor Roll honors every year in high school and if he wasn’t in the top few of every fire class and Fire Academy in college‚ he felt he had failed.

He loved the outdoors; endurance hiking and climbing was his passion second only to firefighting. He also loved mountain biking and spending time with his family‚ me‚ his two sisters still at home and his grandmother. He had hoped to some day be a smoke jumper and had also expressed interest in getting his helicopter pilot license.

From the age of 13‚ he became the man of the house. He devoted his all in making sure that I‚ his Mother‚ disabled with Lupus‚ his sisters Brenda‚ age 16 at that time‚ Jody‚ age 8‚ at that time‚ and Crystal‚ age 6 at that time‚ and his elderly grandmother who lives with us‚ were happy‚ healthy‚ and secure. He lost his own childhood in insisting on taking on this responsibility. So much so‚ that by the time he reached age 25‚ it became quite a concern to him that he had not found someone yet and was heartsick at the possibility of never having children of his own as he truly loved children.

But all was not lost. He met the love of his life in a beautiful woman named Staci and for that last chapter in his short life‚ he was the happiest man that some of us only dream of. A sparkle in his eyes and a joy in his heart that could be felt by anyone who was near him. He now had his future‚ his life. The career that he dreamed of as a child‚ the best woman in the world that he planned to marry in October of 2007‚ siblings that were well on their way‚ and a mother’s illness that was stable.

It was now his turn… at least until the Esperanza Fire. Esperanza… means Hope.

Submitted by a USDA Forest Service Family Liaison

Assistant Engineer Jason McKay was one of five firefighters killed while protecting a structure on the Esperanza Fire‚ October 26‚ 2006.

Jason was born on December 21‚ 1978 in Virginia City‚ Minnesota. Jason was fulfilling his dream of being a firefighter. From the age of three‚ Jason knew that he was going to be a firefighter. At the age of fourteen Jason became a Fire Explorer with the City of Adelanto Fire Department. He began his training at Victor Valley College where he trained to be a Wildland Firefighter. He joined the Mojave Greens fire fighting crew where he loved ‘diggin’ dirt and makin’ water squirt’; this began his career with the Forest Service. He attended the Fire Academy at Victor Valley College where he obtained his Associates Degree in Fire Technology.

In August of 2006‚ Jason and his crew responded to a Medical Aide where they delivered a healthy baby boy on the side of the roadway. This experience was so exciting to Jason that he knew he want ed to have lots of kids. Jason’s hobbies were hiking‚ photography and he was truly a computer geek‚ but what Jason loved most in his life was his fiancee Staci. They were planning to wed sometime this year.

Jason is survived by his parents Robert and Bonnie‚ sister and brother in law Brenda & Aaron Zimmerman and their children; sisters Jodi and Crystal; Grandparents Alberta Reese; Robert & Hope McKay; Aunts‚ Uncles‚ Nieces and Nephews‚ extended family members including his entire fire fighting family from the San Bernardino National Forest.

Jess E. McLean

Jess E. McLean

Submitted by his Wife

Jess worked for the USDA Forest Service for 7 years. He volunteered with the California Department of Fire for 2 years. He volunteered every year at the Relay for Life cancer walk in Beaumont‚ CA.

He wanted to transfer to a city department someday but he always enjoyed teaching and the Forest Serivce allowed him to do that every winter. His hobbies included just about any activity that was outdoors: camping‚ skiing‚ snowboarding‚ soccer‚ dirt bike riding.

He is survied by his wife‚ Karen McLean; his mother Cecilia McLean; brother Josh McLean; brother Jeremy McLean; and sister Jamie Cale.

Submitted by a USDA Forest Service Family Liaison

Engineer Jess ‘Gus’ McLean was on of five firefighters killed while protecting a structure on the Esperanza Fire‚ October 26‚ 2006.

Jess was born August 7‚ 1979 in Fontana‚ California and lived in Beaumont‚ California for the past four years. He grew up in and has been a longtime resident of the Pass Area.

Working for the US Forest Service for the past seven years‚ Jess began his career 2 years earlier as a volunteer and paid call firefighter for the California Department of Forestry. His hobbies include vollyball‚ soccer‚ and water skiing.

Jess is survived by his loving wife of three years Karen; his mother Cecillia McLean; his brother and sister in law Josh & Christine; brother Jeremy; sister and brother in law Jamie & Matthew Cale; members of the Clays family; and many nieces‚ nephews‚ extended family‚ and close friends.

Pablo Cerda

Pablo  Cerda

Submitted by a USDA Forest Service Family Liaison

Firefighter Pablo Cerda was one of five firefighters killed while protecting a structure on the Esperanza Fire‚ October 26‚ 2006.

Pablo graduated from Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley California in 2001. He also attended Rancho College in Santa Ana for several years. Pablo was a parishioner of Santa Barbara Catholic Church in Santa Ana. Soccer was a sport that Pablo enjoyed. He belonged to the Wolfpack Soccer Team‚ where he played every Sunday. He also enjoyed volleyball‚ basketball‚ swimming and working out.

Pablo was a Seasonal Firefighter for the US Forest Service on Engine 57 for three years. Pablo was described by his cousin as being a ‘funny guy’. He loved joking‚ laughing and sports; he loved life in general.

Daniel K. Hoover-Najera

Daniel K. Hoover-Najera

Submitted by his Mother

Danny’s dream as a young boy and teen was to become a firefighter. His contributions and investment of time and resources to the US Forestry Department were shown through his service as seasonal employment in 2005 and 2006.

Daniel Najera was educated from grades K-8 in Riverside‚ Antioch and Utah‚ often attending Seventh-day Adventist schools while traveling with his grandparents who built churches around the world. He attended 8-12 grades in San Jacinto‚ and graduated from Mountain View High School in 2004.

After his graduation from high school he applied to the forestry service. He began his vigorous training everyday and eventually became a seasonal employee in 2005. When the season was over Danny began to work at Lowe’s distribution center and continued to hike and skateboard daily. Skateboarding was definitely a favorite past time of Danny. He would often arrive at home with a broken board and ask for a ride to the skateboard shop either to replace it and/or skate shoes that had been worn out while on his skateboard excursions.

Danny was known and respected by his family and friends as an individual of integrity; a man of leadership and a warrior for what he believed was right and just. He had the ability to perceive people’s honesty and motives.

Daniel Kurtis Najera was born on March 25‚ 1986 and left us on October 26‚ 2006. His mother and stepfather‚ Gloria and Efren Ayala Jr. and brother and sister‚ Monica and Michael as well as many family‚ friends and extended family will miss him greatly. The US Forestry Department family and the City of San Jacinto will miss Daniel‚ Mark Loutzenhiser‚ Jason McKay‚ Jess McLean and Pablo Cerda – the brave warriors who bravely fought the Esperanza fire and at the same time fought for the safety of our community.

Submitted by his Father

IN MEMORIAM OF DANIEL HOOVER-NAJERA. The Hoover Family has struggled with the loss of their son and brother. We appreciate that the media has been respectful of our need to grieve privately and that the same respect will continue throughout this very difficult time.

Daniel Hoover-Najera is the son of Timothy Hoover. On October 26‚ 2006 the family lost a son‚ a brother‚ a nephew‚ a cousin and friend. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child.

Danny found his passion and calling in this life. He loved fighting fires. Just a few days before his tragic death‚ Danny was visiting his father‚ Tim‚ his step-mother‚ Lisa‚ his sister and brother‚ Nikki and Billy and cousin‚ Laura and telling them how much he ‘wanted to be on the fire engine’. When he spoke about being a fire fighter you could see the light of true happiness in his eyes. This was the beginning of a young man’s journey.

Tim‚ Lisa and the Hoover family would like to express their deepest respect for the U.S. Forest Service fire fighters who are on the front lines everyday making sure their community family is safe and protected. You started out as fire fighters and became family. You have shown us the true brotherhood and the love you all share and now we all share that with you.

A special thanks is extended to the team of Angels that was available to us anytime of day or night; John Flores‚ Mark Von Tillow‚ Stacy McLain‚ and Anthony Stornetta. We would also like to thank Jack Brown and the Stater Brothers Family for their generosity and support. Words cannot describe what it has meant to the family having you there by our side‚ gently guiding us and helping us through this difficult time. Your kindness‚ compassion and thoughtfullness will never be forgotten. We also want to thank Pastor Greg Laurie and Pastor Steve Ballinger of Harvest Christian Fellowship for their spiritual guidance and support.

The Hoover family would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the families who lost fathers‚ sons‚ brothers‚ nephews‚ cousins and friends in this tragedy.

Danny is loved by many people – both family and friends and brother firefighters and will be forever missed.


The Hoover Family – Tim‚ Lisa‚ Nikki‚ Billy and Laura

Submitted by a USDA Forest Service Family Liaison

Firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera was one of five firefighters killed while protecting a structure on the Esperanza Fire‚ October 26‚ 2006.