Monday, December 5 , 2016, 6:07 pm | Fair 55º


Local News

Firefighter Sean Misner Returns to Santa Ynez, Accompanied by ‘Brothers in Arms’ and Silent Tributes

Motorcade carrying Granite Mountain Hotshots crew member's ashes flanked by fire vehicles in final journey home from Arizona

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery.]

As the miles passed on the drive to Santa Barbara County from Prescott, Ariz., the remains of Sean Misner were greeted at every turn.

The vehicles carrying the ashes of the 26-year-old firefighter who was killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona — as well as his parents, Tammy and Ron, and Misner’s wife, Amanda — were flanked by fire trucks and law enforcement as they drove up Highway 101 to Santa Ynez, where Misner went to high school and where his family still lives.

Misner was a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting team employed at the Prescott Fire Department. He and 18 fellow firefighters with the 20-member unit perished June 30 when they were overtaken by the deadly and unpredictable wildfire in the mountains about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Traveling through multiple counties and cities across Southern California, firefighters from those communities lined up to greet the family driving their way, saluting Misner’s sacrifice.

The Misners’ motorcade passed under each overpass, and the appreciation was wordless, but it was there, and it was strong.

Welcome home, brother, they all seemed to say. Thank you.

The Montecito Fire Protection District, a fire department hit particularly hard by Misner’s death, lined up on the San Ysidro Road overpass around 5 p.m. to greet the family.

Misner was the nephew of Montecito Fire Division Chief Terry McElwee, and grandson of the late Montecito Fire Chief Herb McElwee.

“We wanted to honor his return back into the county,” said Geri Ventura, the department’s spokeswoman who had just returned to her office from the procession.

“It was emotional,” she said. “He is a member of our family.”

Misner’s family left Prescott on Saturday morning, and a Montecito firefighter was with them the whole time, and was still with them on the way to their Santa Ynez home, Ventura said.

The family attended the public memorial held Tuesday in Prescott Valley, Ariz. The service brought out more than 30,000 people, including firefighters from around the world, to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots members.

The road back to Santa Barbara County was no different.

“They were honored the entire way home,” Ventura said.

Ventura was returning to Santa Barbara County on Highway 101 about two hours before the procession and saw several jurisdictions setting up equipment on overpasses to honor Misner.

“I just lost it when I saw that,” she said.

Ventura has been helping with the arrangements for Misner’s local memorial, which will be held at Santa Ynez Valley High School on Monday evening. She said donations to help with the event have been plentiful, with local hotels even donating rooms for the family and for firefighters from Prescott.

“It’s been a united effort to make this happen in a way that honors him,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >