Standing-room only in Scandia church
More than 500 people attended the funeral of Scandia Firefighter John Larson at Elim Lutheran Church in Scandia on Thursday, March 7.
Olinda Trail in front of the church was officially closed to accommodate the fire trucks and other vehicles from neighboring fire departments.
Trucks from the fire departments of Forest Lake, Marine, Centennial, Wyoming, Lindstrom, North Branch, Stacy/Lent, Taylors Falls, Chisago City, Osceola, Bayport, Oakdale, White Bear Lake, Woodbury, Lower St. Croix Valley, Lake Elmo, Hugo, Mahtomedi, Stillwater and Eagan were parked in front of the church.
Ambulances from Lakeview, North Memorial, and Regions were on hand.
Volunteers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department directed traffic.
Larson, a fourth-generation fire fighter, was killed in a car crash on Feb. 28.
He had completed his night shift at the U.S. Postal Service in Eagan and was turning north from Minnesota Highway 36 onto Manning Avenue with a green arrow when his car was struck by a van.
The other driver, Kenneth Tougaw of Bayport, suffered minor injuries.
Tougaw’s record includes past citations for speeding, disobeying a traffic signal and passing into oncoming traffic.
Larson died at Regions Hospital as a result of the crash. He was 42 years old, and is survived by his wife Paula and children Jeremy, Chantel and Hannah.
At the funeral, in addition to the message by Pastor Scott Westphal, Larson’s brother Eric and Scandia firefighter Erich Kertzscher spoke in celebration of John’s life.
Bells were rung for Larson’s “last call,” a fire department tradition to recognize devotion to duty. A bagpipe player led the processional to carry the casket to the waiting Scandia fire rescue vehicle.