"We all love you and we'll miss you more than you'll ever know," says a friend of Ratledge.
More than 1,500 friends, family, and fellow service members, packed into the West Cottonwood Junior High School gym Sunday, to honor and celebrate the life of 35-year-old Cottonwood Fire Captain, Mark Ratledge.
Friends say, "He was always upbeat, always smiling, and always laughing." "He had a heart of love and a heart of serving."
The nine year Cottonwood Fire veteran was killed Wednesday morning, when a driver lost control of their car on the hail covered section of Interstate Five, crashing into Ratledge, who at the time was attending to another person who spun out just moments before.
Fellow member of the cottonwood fire district, Art Parham says, he died doing what he loved. "Absolutely loves what he was doing. He was very dedicated to serving others and his job," he says.
During the ceremony Sunday, friends and family shared stories of Ratledge, from tears to laughter, explaining how loving, kind, and selfless he was. Parham says, "Very dedicated, very loving. He gave CPR to a dog that was brought out in one of the structure fires and saved the dog."
Ratledge is survived by his fiancee and one-year-old daughter, two step children, a sister, and both parents. ho sat together.. surrounded by the entire fire community in his district and beyond. "A devastating loss for our community, his family, and our district."
The ceremony came to a close with the traditional last alarm bell ringing and playing of taps, while fire personnel handed over Ratledge's fire badge and helmet to his children. "We're going to miss him." Parham says, "This is a major void in our organization. We will get through it and we're going to do that in honor of our fallen brother."