Clayton Cassidy’s brother, Patrick, speaks at the service for the fire chief who died after he was swept away by heavy floods in early May. The line of duty memorial was held Saturday at Cache Creek Park. Credit: Kevin MacDonald

UPDATED: Cache Creek fire chief remembered as ‘champion, an unsung hero’

Hundreds turn out to honour Clayton Cassidy, whose body was found after he was swept away by floods

Close to 1,500 people, including more than 400 firefighters, gathered Saturday to honour fallen Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy.

Cassidy, 59, had served for more than 30 years on the Cache Creek Fire Department and spent more than a decade as chief. He was reported missing on the morning of May 5 after apparently being swept away by floodwater as he was checking rising water levels in washed out areas of the community. His body was found on May 27, and recovered on May 28.

The celebration of life began with a procession of family members and firefighters from the Cache Creek fire hall to the park.

“We are here to celebrate a life well-lived,” said retired chaplain Ray Parker of Kamloops Fire Rescue as he conducted the service.

He quoted from John 15:13 — “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“Clayton Cassidy was that sort of man,” Park said. “As a firefighter, he would run into those places we would run away from. His love of the fire service was second only to his love of his family and of the Village of Cache Creek.”

Chief Ryan Day of the Bonaparte Indian Band said Cassidy was much honoured by the Bonaparte community.

“A well-loved, well-liked, cherished soul was taken into the water. These lands and these waters took him home to the spirit world to be with his ancestors. He watched over many of us in human form, in one place at one time. In spirit form he will be in all places at all times, and I know he is watching over us.”

Cassidy’s brother, Patrick, a year younger, told stories about how he and Clayton had a special bond growing up, being the two middle children in the family: “Clayton used to say to me ‘I’m stuck in the middle with you.’ Clayton took on the role of looking after others, and he carried that compassion all his life.

“He was a man of integrity and honesty; hard-working. He loved his wife, his family, and his community, and he left us too soon.”

B.C. fire commissioner Gordon Anderson was there on behalf of the province. “(Cassidy) made the ultimate sacrifice. He was there to protect his community, and the turnout today shows that Chief Cassidy was appreciated.”

Longtime friend and Cache Creek councillor Wyatt McMurray, who spent many hours searching by helicopter for the missing fire chief, called Cassidy his best friend.

“On the morning of May 5, I got the call that I will never forget. The words ‘Clayton is missing’ are words I’ll never forget. Suddenly nothing seemed important except finding Clayton.

“The reaction of all the volunteers exemplifies small towns. People in Cache Creek and Ashcroft were trying to find one of our heroes, and never giving up.

“Clayton was one of those quiet heroes. He worked hard, looked after his family, tried to do the right thing. There are many quiet heroes in our communities, but Clayton took it to the highest level. He was a guy you could always count on. Clayton was always there.

“He was always game for everything that was up. We all send you our love. We’ve lost a champion, an unsung hero, and a friend.”

Cassidy’s three sons all spoke movingly about their father. Middle son Kevin, a member of Kamloops Fire Rescue, said his father would be “humbled and speechless to see how many people are here to honour him.

“I wish I could find bigger words than ‘thank you’ to express my and my family’s thanks for all those who spent thousands of hours looking for my dad.” He singled out the fire departments of Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Kamloops, as well as the search and rescue teams, emergency responders, and police who assisted with the search, with special thanks to Ashcroft fire chief Josh White and Ashcroft fire captain Jonah Anstett, who found his father on May 27.

“First responders keep helping people, and finding people, as best we can.”

“We will remember him fondly, and with great respect,” Parker said as he concluded the service. “We are grateful and thankful for a life well-lived.”

He then explained bells played a large part in the life of firefighters, signalling the call to duty and the end of an alarm.

When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, a bell is rung three times, three times each, to show that the firefighter has returned to quarters.

The bell was rung, and under the bright sunshine of a June day, Clayton Cassidy — a man of honour, integrity, compassion, and great love — was brought home and laid to rest.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Quesnel was hit with unseasonably October snowfall earlier this week. More is on the way on Sunday, Oct. 25 and Monday, Oct. 26, and Quesnel and North Cariboo are under a winter storm warning. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
“Hazardous” weather expected for Quesnel: Environment Canada

10-20 cm of snow and freezing rain are expected to start Sunday night

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read