The hockey community is honoring an Arizona firefighter who was recently killed in an ambulance crash.
Brendan Bessee was killed on Friday after the ambulance he was in was hit by a tractor-trailer.
"Although his stint with the team was short, his impact on our team's success during that time was very noticeable. Brendan was one of our hardest working players. He played fearlessly every shift and was an amazing teammate,” said his former coach, Danny Roy.
According to DPS, the ambulance was driving with emergency lights on, heading to a call involving a woman having complications with her pregnancy. The ambulance attempted to make a turn onto SR-87 when it was hit by the tractor-trailer.
"By statute, people are required to yield the right of way for the emergency vehicle, however the driver of that emergency vehicle still has to operate with due diligence and care," said DPS Captain Paul Etnire.
A paramedic from the ambulance was also taken to the hospital in critical condition, with officials saying they needed surgery. The driver of the tractor-trailer was also hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries.
Bessee grew up in Globe and, after his hockey injury, followed his father’s footsteps of becoming a firefighter. Bessee was a reserve firefighter for Globe and had hopes of working for his hometown department.
Bessee’s uncle told ABC15 that he grew up loving hockey, but there was no hockey rink in Globe so his parents drove him to the Valley to practice and play.
After high school, Bessee played for several teams, and lived in Helena, Montana with a host family so he could play hockey.
“One of those guys never afraid to back down, when he played, he played with tenacity,” said Jessica Frazier, who hosted Bessee and one of his teammates.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of a former AHU player, Brendan "Taz" Bessee who passed away unexpectedly. Please keep Rob and Judy and his entire family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. https://t.co/GmJpofx6sF pic.twitter.com/XpkAZfkfT7— Arizona Hockey Union (@AHUhockey) April 10, 2022
The Arizona Hockey Union also sharing support for Bessee and his family, ”It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of a former AHU player, Brendan "Taz" Bessee who passed away unexpectedly,” a social media post read.
Steve Heyer with East Valley Firefighter Charities helped organize a big fundraiser over the weekend to raise money for the organization. It wasn’t until the dust settled on Monday when Heyer realized one of the volunteers who signed up was Bessee.
“This is pretty emotional for me to see that because he’s a family member,” said Heyer.
Funeral arrangements for Bessee are scheduled for this Saturday at Miami High School according to Lamont Mortuary of Globe.
Until then, East Valley Firefighter Charities found a way for Bessee and the passenger in the ambulance at the time of the crash, Tyler "Ty" Packer – to not be alone. Until Bessee’s service, at least two area firefighters will stand with Bessee at the funeral home at all times.
The same goes for Packer who, as of Monday, is still in critical condition at a Scottsdale hospital.
A crowdfunding account for Packer started on Sunday raised over $25,000 in less than 24 hours.
His family wrote in part, “Ty is your all-around country boy who loves hunting, fishing and sitting around the campfire with his buddies. Most of all, he loves his country. Ty is quite literally one of the best people on this planet. He has an incredibly pure heart, always shows up for people who need him, is the biggest goofball and loves making people laugh. He has been with his wife for six years and is the dad of two fur babies.”
Both Packer and Bessee were with the Salt River Fire Department for fewer than four months before the crash.