Memorial service today for firefighter killed in rappelling fall


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Carey Peña

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 15 at 12:04 PM

Map: Christ's Church of the Valley

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PHOENIX -- Family, friends and colleagues gathered today to remember and honor a Phoenix firefighter who died in a rappelling accident last week.

Gary Johnstone was off duty when he and two teenage boys fell while rappelling at Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain last Friday morning.

One of the boys with Johnstone, Trevor Crouse, 15, died, as well. The other teen suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The three were on a rock formation known as the "Sugar Cube" when they fell. It is still not clear what went wrong in the moments before the accident.

Johnstone, 50, was an engineer paramedic, a member of the Technical Rescue Team and 15-year veteran of the department. He also was one of the most recognizable members of the Phoenix Fire Honor Guard.

He leaves behind a wife and three children, one of whom was with him at Echo Canyon when he fell.

Johnstone's memorial was at 11 a.m. at Christ's Church of the Valley, 7007 W. Happy Valley Road, Peoria.

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