Off-duty Ferndale firefighter dies in snowboarding accident

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — An off-duty Ferndale firefighter was killed while snowboarding near Mount Baker on Friday.

Whatcom County Fire District 7 shared his photo, saying firefighters are mourning the loss of their brother, Captain John DeVenere.

“Devastating for his family, his wife Candy, three kids, three adult kids, went down there and talked to them on Friday night to Candy and one of the kids,” Whatcom County Fire District 7 Chief Larry Hoffman said.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports the 63-year-old from Sedro-Woolley was separated from his partner when he fell into a tree well Friday afternoon.

They were reportedly at a site popular with backcountry snowboarders in the Lower Rumble Gully. Rescuers dug up DeVenere and tried to save him, but he did not survive.

“He just happened to fall into this particular tree that had a particularly deep tree well to the point where even the base of his snowboard, the reports that I’ve received was that the base of his snowboard was upside down so even the base was covered. He was truly underneath the snow,” Gwyn Howat, CEO of Mt. Baker Ski Area said.

The News Tribune reports DeVenere has been with Whatcom Fire since 2000 and was married with three grown children.

With a heavy heart we mourn the loss of our brother, John Devenere. He was suddenly taken away from his family in a...

Posted by Whatcom Seven Firefighters on Saturday, March 2, 2024