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Caravan through town honors Charles City firefighter

Caravan through town honors Charles City firefighter
Charles City Fire Department trucks are part of a caravan escorting the body of firefighter John Carpenter from Rochester, Minnesota, to Charles City. Carpenter died Monday in a Rochester hospital from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last month in Mitchell County. The Charles City vehicles met the caravan at the Northeast Iowa Regional Airport. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
By Kelly Terpstra,

A caravan of fire trucks and ambulances made its way down South Grand and past the fire station on Wednesday afternoon in Charles City.

The procession of emergency vehicles honored Charles City volunteer firefighter John Carpenter, 34, who passed away this week from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last month.

Charles City Fire Chief Eric Whipple said Carpenter joined the ranks of the CCFD’s 25-person volunteer crew on Oct. 16, 2017.

“The thing is not just that he was a firefighter or part of any other public safety organization – just losing someone that age is a terrible thing,” said Whipple.

The Iowa State Patrol reported that Carpenter was driving a 2016 Harley-Davidson motorcycle with his wife, Ashley Carpenter, age 32, as a passenger when he lost control while negotiating a left curve near the intersection of West Main Street and East Commercial St. in Mitchell. Both of them were seriously injured in the accident, the report said. Ashley Carpenter is still being treated at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

Members of the Charles City Fire Department, AMR Ambulance, family members and the North Iowa American Legion Riders Post 278 out of Osage helped escort Carpenter’s body as it arrived from Rochester, headed to Hauser Weishaar Funeral Home in Charles City.

Around 1:30 p.m., the caravan drove past the Fire Department where Carpenter’s cousin, Katherine Simon, was outside watching the procession.

She said she was thankful the Fire Department honored Carpenter in such a manner.

“I just think that it’s actually really great that they’re doing what they’re doing for him,” said Katherine. “He was a really great person. A lot of people knew him. He was very popular.”

Katherine’s husband, Kenford Simon, got to know John through training together at firefighter courses. Kenford is a member of the Floyd Volunteer Fire Department.

“He’ll be missed,” said Kenford. “He was always that calm, quiet person that entered the room and just smooth.”

Whipple said a lot of firefighters in the area know one another, work together often on calls and are a close-knit group.

“We consider ourselves everybody else’s second family, basically,” said Whipple. “Because you have to be close in this type of profession to be able to trust one another in emergency situations. When we do lose somebody — fortunately it doesn’t happen very often, especially somebody that’s a current member of the fire department — it takes its toll.”