PHOTOS: Life of firefighter Chris Mertz honored during procession

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Firefighters salute and honor their comrade Chris Mertz as his remains are led to a hearse at Temecula Valley Hospital. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Area residents and local firefighters turned out Sunday morning to honor 54-year-old Temecula resident and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Capt. Chris Mertz, who died of complications related to COVID-19 on Jan. 20. Mertz's family and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District personnel were present at Temecula Valley Hospital as his body was transferred into a waiting hearse, which they then followed in a procession to Miller-Jones Mortuary in Menifee, escorted by the California Highway Patrol. Meanwhile, crews from local fire departments including Cal Fire Riverside as well as 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 Sa
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