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B.C. family rallying around little girls who lost their firefighter dad in highway crash

Blain Sonnenberg's daughters — seven-year-old Brooklyn and four-year-old Trezley — were the light of his life.

“Oh, he was just so proud,” said Sonnenberg’s great aunt Collette Jones.

"He just loved them and nurtured them, and you know, he would play with them and sit on the floor with them and talk with them.”

The 27-year-old member of the Sts’ailus First Nation near Agassiz also loved his new job. He was working as a wildland firefighter this summer for a private company contracted by the provincial government.

“He tried all kinds jobs. He did logging. He did roofing, and he just didn’t like it. But when he got into firefighting, he loved it,” said Jones. “He’s saving homes and lives and people and animals out in those forests. He just loved it. He loved doing this.”

Last Tuesday, Sonnenberg was one of four firefighters killed when their pickup truck collided with a semi truck while driving back to Kamloops base after a 14-day deployment.

“We sat here just in shock, like it can’t be true,” said Jones. “He was just a beautiful person, he had his whole life ahead of him. Just taken like that. Just gone. And it’s just breaking our hearts, and we are saying, 'Why, why? How could this have happened?'”

This past Saturday, the firefighting community in the eastern Fraser Valley came out to honour Sonnenberg in a funeral procession.

“It was amazing, people coming out of their homes. They cared. They knew what was happening because we had all these fire trucks ahead of us leading us. Fire trucks sitting on the side roads saluting the parents and Blain’s body going ahead of us,” said Jones.

The procession concluded with a traditional service on the Sts’ailus First Nation, where Sonnenberg was laid to rest.

"The teachings, the songs, the drumming was just so powerful. I say that drumming and the songs of the Sts’ailus drummers and singers, they helped move our grief forward,” Jones said.

The family is now rallying around the two little girls who lost their dad. They’ve launched a GoFundMe to help Brooklyn and Trezley’s mom care for them. 

“With Blain gone now, I know it’s going to be hard on her,” said Jones. "We don’t want her to feel stressed over finances. That’s our support from a distance is to support her financially.”

As they grieve, Sonnenberg’s large extended family is comforted by memories of a proud father and dedicated firefighter.

“He loved family. Family was number one to him,” said Jones. “That’s how I will always remember him.” Top Stories

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