Community honors the life of firefighter Chris Mertz with memorial procession

The remains of firefighter Chris Mertz are led to a hearse at Temecula Valley Hospital before a procession of first responders and family to a mortuary in Menifee. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Area residents and firefighters turned out Sunday morning, Jan. 24, to honor 54-year-old Temecula resident and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Capt. Chris Mertz, who died Jan. 20, from complications related to COVID-19. Mertz’s family and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District personnel were present at Temecula Valley Hospital as his body was transferred to a waiting hearse, which they followed in a procession escorted by the California Highway Patrol to Miller-Jones Mortuary in Menifee. Meanwhile, crews from area fire departments, including Cal Fire Riverside, and many community members who wanted to pay their respects to the fallen firefighter gathered on freeway overpasses along northbound Interstate 15 between the hospital and the mortuary. According to a statement from the Rancho Santa
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