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West Benton firefighters escort fallen comrade's body to Prosser

It's snowy and wet outside of the Prosser Funeral Home Monday afternoon, but the firefighters of West Benton Fire Rescue don't seem to mind when honoring one of their own taken far too soon.

James Wildman,23, was a volunteer firefighter at West Benton Fire Rescue in Prosser, but despite his limited time working with the team of brothers, he made quite the impression on Fire Chief Doug Merritt.

"There's no greater comment than, I believe, that you can make about a firefighter than to say, ‘I'd fight fire with him anywhere,’ and that's James."

But this past weekend, the truck Wildman was driving slid off the road during a storm and plunged into the Naches River. First responders came to the aid of this first responder, but couldn't save him or the other man in the truck

He and his friend Dylan Bolt, 25, also of Prosser, died at the scene.

Just two days after the crash, West Benton Fire crews made the trip to Yakima to escort his body back home to Prosser.

Chief Merritt says in his 24 years as fire chief, this is the first escort performed for a member of their department.

"One of the things moving forward is we need to create good memories moving forward of the person that's departed and this is one way of doing that by honoring them. Honoring them for the service that they've done because it's important."

The funeral dates for both Wildman and Bolt are pending.

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