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

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

Chilliwack Fire Department responded to a townhouse on fire on May 9, 2020, in the 6400-block of Vedder Road. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Townhouse fire in Sardis knocked down by Chilliwack firefighters

Vedder Road closed while crews work on Mother’s Day house fire

Chilliwack volunteer drivers are needed to help get cancer patients back and forth to Abbotsford (shown here), Surrey and Vancouver cancer clinics. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Volunteer drivers needed to expand cancer driver program to Chilliwack

Drivers will need to commit to one full day of driving, or two half days each week

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read