Local firefighter remembered by his family as a hero after tragic crash

Local firefighter remembered by his family as a hero after tragic crash

EUGENE, Ore. -- Firefighter Scott Charlson is being remembered by his family as a hero. Charlson left behind a mother, father and brother in Eugene after he was killed in a helicopter crash along with nine others in Northern California.

Last spring, Charlson told his parents he was going to be a firefighter to pay his way through college. His family feared the worst. But through his short career, they held a sense of pride about the young man he had become.

"He was a very loyal person. He really valued people," said Scott's mom, Nina Charlson.

When Scott graduated Lifegate Christian High School in Eugene back in 2001, his parents never imagined seven years later they'd be burying their son.

"I had just gotten off work, and I think I was watching BBC America," said Scott's dad, Rick Charlson. "And the pastor rang the doorbell and came in and he said, 'I have bad news. Your son Scott was killed today.'"

The 25-year-old was one of nine killed Tuesday when a helicopter crashed shortly after taking off with a load of firefighters heading back to camp. It was the deadliest accident on a U.S. forest fire in more than a decade.

"My first response when he called me was, 'Are you kidding me? That's not possible,'" said Scott's brother, Jake Charlson.

Three days later, handmade sympathy cards from Nina's preschool class adorn the family coffee table, while the three share memories of the young man just a year away from graduating Southern Oregon University.

"He would always do something silly. He'd walk down the hall with his shorts up to his armpits or down to his knees, you know? Just some crazy stuff that he would do and that was just Scott," said Nina.

"He was a hero. He was a hero to me and to all is friends and everyone that knew him," said Jake.

A memorial service for Scott will be held Monday morning at 11 at First Baptist Church in Eugene.

Flags around the state will also fly at half staff next week.