Friday, July 7, 2006

Valley mourns loss of Hailey firefighter

Zane Martin dies in motorcycle accident

Express Staff Writer

Bellevue resident Barb Patterson, left, and Hailey resident Danna Cox view flowers, photos and other items left in front of Zaney's River Street Coffee House in honor of Zane Martin, who co-owned the coffee shop with his mother, Susan Martin. Martin was killed in a motorcycle accident near Galena Summit on Monday. Photo by David N. Seelig

A love for fire fighting was one of life's great passions for 22-year-old Hailey resident, Wood River Fire and Rescue firefighter and entrepreneur Zane Martin.

Last Monday, Martin was killed in an early evening motorcycle accident on state Highway 75 near Galena Summit, north of Ketchum. Early police reports indicate Martin failed to complete a left-hand turn, causing him to collide with a guardrail.

Martin's passion for fire fighting was easy to see, said Rich Bauer, a lieutenant with Wood River Fire and Rescue. "He loved the fire fighting. He immensely enjoyed it."

Martin, who along with his mother, Susan Martin, owned Zaney's River Street Coffee House in Hailey, graduated from Wood River High School in Hailey.

His love of fighting fires was evident in his Hailey coffee house. There, he created a specialty coffee blend called the "Firehouse Blend." For now, Zaney's River Street Coffee House has been closed until further notice.

Not surprisingly, the coffee shop is a popular hangout for local firefighters.

"We all hang out there," Bauer said. "It's definitely a popular spot."

Like his fellow firefighters, Martin loved the excitement of responding to a call.

"We're excited by the adrenaline rush," Bauer said.

Martin's career as a firefighter began with Wood River Fire and Rescue on Sept. 5, 2002. Martin received his basic EMT certification in 2003 and obtained his engineer's license in 2004.

Engineers are the firefighters who drive fire trucks to fires and operate them once there.

"Their primary job is to provide the water on the fire fight," Bauer explained.

Working on a fire would prompt an ear-to-ear grin on Martin's face, Bauer said. "That was what he really wanted to do."

Martin enjoyed being a part of the fire department team.

"It's almost like a fraternity. That's how close everybody is," he said. "It's huge."

Martin wasn't the only person in his family with a passion for fire fighting, either. Not only does his older brother, Seth Martin, work for the Ketchum Fire Department as a full-time career firefighter and paramedic, but his brother's wife, Rachel Martin, is also a paid, on-call firefighter with the Ketchum Fire Department.

"That, to me, is a pretty big deal," Bauer said.

Like Bauer, Rachel Martin emphasizes the love her brother-in-law had for the inclusive and fraternal nature of the valley's fire departments.

"The departments are like family," Rachel said. "The support takes your breath away."

Although born in Hailey, most of Martin's earliest years were spent in Burley. He and the rest of his family moved back to Hailey in 1987.

He especially liked living in the Wood River Valley and enjoyed the many recreational pursuits the area's outdoor spaces afforded him, Rachel said. "He loved mountain biking and hiking and being outside," she said.

Martin was friendly, outgoing and a fun person to be around, Rachel Martin said. "He was really social. He was a practical joker."

And Martin looked after those he cared for, especially his family. "He had that brotherly thing where you knew he would take care of you," Rachel Martin said.

Martin was an intelligent person with a vast knowledge of many things, she added.

"He was one of the smartest people I knew," she said. "He had this incredible wealth of knowledge."

Martin's death is sure to be widely felt throughout the Wood River Valley, as evidenced by the solemn procession that served as the finale to Hailey's Fourth of July parade on Tuesday. Walking two abreast, firefighters from various valley fire departments walked behind a Wood River Fire and Rescue ladder truck in Martin's memory.

Not far from the parade route, an impromptu memorial with flowers and photos has sprung up at the front of Zaney's River Street Coffee House.

Martin's accident is still under investigation.

According to a press release written by Blaine County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Curtis Miller, Martin's accident took place sometime around 6 p.m. Monday.

Shortly thereafter, emergency crews with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, Ketchum Ambulance, Stanley Quick Response Unit, Custer County Sheriff's Office and an air ambulance responded to the report of the single motorcycle crash, Miller wrote. The accident took place at about milepoint 160.6 on Highway 75, just several miles north of Galena Summit.

Martin was driving southbound on Highway 75 climbing toward the summit when he failed to complete a left-hand turn, Miller wrote in the news release. After colliding with the guardrail on the highway's west shoulder, he was thrown from his motorcycle and came to rest under the guardrail, the report said.

Despite resuscitation attempts, Martin was unable to be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martin is survived by his mother, Susan Martin; brother, Seth Martin; sister, Heather McMahan; sister-in-law, Rachel Martin; and brother-in-law, Judd McMahan.

Zane Martin Memorial Service

A memorial service celebrating Zane Martin's life has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, at Galena Lodge north of Ketchum on Highway 75. All are invited to attend.

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