HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Friends and family of a fallen Hillsboro firefighter are heartbroken, in shock and still trying to cope with losing him.
Ryan Grimaldi, 31, was killed on Friday when a tree fell on him during a hunting trip.
Grimaldi was a firefighter and paramedic with Hillsboro Fire and Rescue for six years. He had recently been promoted to the position of engineer.
Bruce Montgomery, who said he knew Grimaldi from day one, said he had just come back from fighting a fire in Anaheim. He also helped fight big fires in Oregon, including the Eagle Creek Fire.
Grimaldi’s friends say he was full of life, selfless, and caring.
“There's not enough time in the world to describe him,” said Grimaldi’s best friend, Jordan Barnes. “Whether he knew you for five minutes or five years he treated you exactly as if he had known you his whole life.”
The two knew each other ever since they were kids. They played hockey together, and Grimaldi was even the best man at Barnes' wedding. He said his friend was all about helping other people.
“He could have nothing and still be happy just knowing everybody else was taken care of,” Barnes said.
Grimaldi's coworkers at Hillsboro Fire agree.
“Ryan was a guy that was bigger than life. Literally, he was a big guy. [He was a] hockey player, [had a] huge smile. Anytime you walked into a room, he lit up, you lit up,” recalled Montgomery.
“'What can I do for you?' that was his first question. 'What can I do for you',” he continued.
Grimaldi was well known and well loved. On Sunday, the Hillsboro Fire Department made its way from Heppner in Eastern Oregon, to Tualatin, carrying Grimaldi's body back home. Along the way, fellow firefighters from all over paid their respects.
“We really do pull together as a fire family,” Montgomery said.
KGW has also been in contact with Grimaldi's fiancée, who now wears his wedding band around her neck. She posted a message on Facebook. It reads, in part:
“For it is not goodbye my love, it is see you again on the other side. Please hold our hands and help us step by step. I'm going to need it. Rest in peace my forever love. I will see you again someday.”
She also said she is, “sincerely appreciative of all the support.”
Montgomery also said Grimaldi’s family has been comforted by the outpouring of support.
In 2015 Grimaldi was voted, by other Hillsboro firefighters, as firefighter of the year.
Montgomery said he also headed up Toy N Joy, a program that collects toys and food for kids and families in need.
A public celebration of life is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. It will be held inside the gym at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
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