Fighting wildfires is a difficult, dirty and dangerous job, and also one that many people do because of how much they respect and care for people’s lives and safety.
For two firefighters working the Radio Hill Fire near Tremonton recently, that respect was on display during a chance discovery of a memorial to two plane crash victims who died on the mountain more than 24 years ago.
Last week, Colten Naef and Jacob Judkins were part of the team fighting the fire on the ground. They were all the way near the top of the mountain when they came across an engraved stone that had been placed there to memorialize Earl and Susan Shomber, a Florida couple who perished on Feb. 9, 1995, when their personal twin-engine plane crashed as they attempted to make a stop in Tremonton during a flight from Colorado to Nevada.
According to Colten’s father, Casey, the two firefighters found the memorial in a pocket of junipers near the peak. Given the urgency of the task at hand, they would have been forgiven for passing it by. Instead, Naef and Judkins stopped to remove the heavier fuels from around the headstone, sparing it the most intense heat of the blaze and helping ensure that it will continue to honor the couple who died there.
According to an article in the Leader on Feb. 15, 1995, the Shombers were flying from Pueblo, Colorado, to Winnemucca, Nevada, and had intended to stop in Tremonton for an unknown length of time. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the twin-engine Piper Aerostar was last spotted on radar about three miles from Tremonton, and the crash site was only a mile from the Tremonton airport, above the “BR” painted on the side of the mountain.