Some came from Oregon and Southern California. Others traveled to the Siskiyou County community from as far away as Washington state.
All had come to the Yreka High School football stadium to pay respects to Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputies Larry Breceda and Dale Rossetto, killed Thursday, July 31, in an airplane crash three miles southwest of Mt. Ashland in Oregon.
Breceda, 29, of Montague and Rossetto, 30, of Yreka were, at the time of the crash, on a marijuana-spotting mission in conjunction with the state’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program.
Also killed was Redding pilot Noah Stinnett, 46.
The deputies’ deaths marked the first fatalities in the Sheriff’s Department in more than 30 years, and marked the first time offices have been killed during the four-year history of the CAMP program.
Some 400 uniformed law enforcement officers attended the hour-long, 9:30 a.m. service, which had all the rituals of a full military memorial. They were joined by some 600 friends, public officials and county residents.
Among those attending were officers from San Bernardino County; the Drug Enforcement Administration in Olympia, Washington; the FBI office in Sacramento; and state Department of Justice and Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, both in Sacramento.
Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputy Gary Peery said this morning that several at the ceremony had attended the regional police academy in Oroville with Breceda and Rossetto.
The crowd sat somberly in the mid-morning heat during a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a California Highway Patrol flyby.
In a eulogy by Peery and fellow deputy Larry Schaller, Breceda and Rossetto were described as “heroes” who died while working to better their community. The crowd stood in applause as Schaller told the victims’ families the deputies had not “died in vain.”
“One of the fathers approached me (after the service) and was overwhelmed by it,” Peery said of the camaraderie displayed among law enforcement officers at the service. “He said, ‘I didn’t know how you guys treated each other.’ ”
“A lot of people don’t understand the customs we have,” Peery said.
Since the airplane was discovered by a search team Sunday afternoon deputies wore black ribbons across their badges and county residents and public offices have flown flags at half-staff.
The flags were raised and the ribbons ripped off after the service, but Peery said a sense of resolution will not come until the cause of the crash is known.
We would all like to know exactly what caused it and as soon as possible,” he said.