Michael (Mikey) Scott Hallenbeck was only 21 when a burning tree fell on him on August 8, 2015, while he was fighting a fire at Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort. He had just started his firefighting career. He was very proud that he had taken the initiative to train to become a fire fighter. Mikey was the kind of person who would do anything for someone else.
Michael was born on April 12, 1994, in Folsom and raised in Shingle Springs, California. He went to a wonderful family daycare when he was young, where he was cared for just like a member of the family. He attended local schools and graduated from high school in 2012. Mikey was mischievous and athletic, which led him to many activities in his short life. He played soccer, basketball, and football. He skateboarded and played tennis and golf. He started skiing at age two and went on to snowboarding and ice hockey.
His first job was as a lift operator at Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort. He loved it! After his first snow season he moved to Santa Cruz for a short time, but he heard the mountains calling him. He moved back to Lake Tahoe, where he snowboarded, hiked, or just sat looking at the wonders of life. Michael lit up the world with his infectious smile, which came from his soul. The outpouring of love and memories from his friends, family and fellow firefighters has been phenomenal. He loved God, his family and friends, and the mountains where he lived.
His friends held a candlelight vigil at Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort. A firefighter procession brought Mikey from South Lake Tahoe to return him to Shingle Springs. His parents, Kirby and Toni Hallenbeck, and his sister, Jessica, were at his side throughout his journey home. The procession went by his house, and his dog, Snickers, was at the road by his house to say goodbye. In October, Michael’s crew from OC-36 held a benefit golf tournament for him. Some of the other loving and thoughtful things that people have done include creating sweatshirts that said “I ride for Mikey,” bracelets that say “Remember Mikey – The sky is the limit,” ornaments, poems, songs, and candles.
After Mikey was laid to rest, winter came early. All his friends said Mikey brought the snow for them. Michael loved the Denver Broncos and, once again, Mikey was watching over all of us – they won the Super Bowl in 2016.
In April, Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort held “I Ride for Mikey” Day, where over 100 friends and family skied and boarded while his spirit surrounded us. A beautiful mural was painted, where attendees were able to write down their good wishes. Many other painted snow features were placed around the mountain that he loved.
He is survived by his parents, Kirby and Toni Hallenbeck, of Shingle Springs, sister, Jessica Hallenbeck, from southern California, as well as numerous friends and family.