The San Diego Union-Tribune
A 29-year-old Cal Fire firefighter, described by friends as a fun-loving go-getter, died Monday after suffering a medical emergency on a training hike over the weekend, a fire official said.
Yaroslav Katkov was with his engine crew in an area behind their station — Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Station 16 in De Luz — when he collapsed about 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said. The firefighter was flown to a hospital in critical condition and died the next day.
The hike was part of the station’s normal physical training regimen, officials said.
Katkov, who lived in Murrieta, started his career with Cal Fire on Aug. 18 and was assigned to the De Luz Road station, which is northwest of Fallbrook.
Katkov immigrated to the United States from Russia when he was a child and played football at Scripps Ranch High School. He graduated in 2009 and went on to San Diego State University. Longtime friend Joshua Wilson said Katkov had an indomitable spirit.
“The guy took everything to the max,” said Wilson. “No journey was too much. He pulled the trigger on everything.”
His genuine and outgoing personality was magnetic, Wilson said, and fueled Katkov’s many close friendships.
“He always put everyone before himself — the most selfless person I’ve ever met,” Wilson said.
Katkov is survived by his parents and brother. In his honor, flags at Cal Fire facilities were lowered to half-staff and uniformed personnel were told to shroud their badges until further notice.
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