A procession was held Saturday for Fire Captain W. Chris Mertz of the Rancho Santa Fe Protection Fire District after he passed away last month from complications of COVID-19.
The procession began in the morning at the RSFFD Station 3 on 6424 El Apajo and continued through Rancho Santa Fe.
RSFFD said people who wished to pay their last respects were invited to line the procession route to safely honor Cpt. Chris Mertz.
Fire Capt. Chris Mertz, 54, a 30-year veteran, worked with the RSFFPD for the last three decades. Most recently, he called Fire Station 5 in Harmony Grove Village home base.
Capt. Mertz' had a distinguished early career before his time with the RSFFPD. Mertz spent time with the Federal Fire Department - San Diego and the U.S. Forest Service. With the USFS, Mertz served on the elite hot shot team, the Laguna Hot Shots. He was also one of the original members of FEMA's San Diego Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 8, RSFFPD said.
Mertz responded to Ground Zero when the World Trade Center was attacked on 9/11, and deployed to New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast.
Captain Mertz will recieve full line-of-duty death honors, the RSFFPD said.