Deanna Carr’s firefighter helmet sits on a table with some other momentos from her life (Allison DeAngelis/staff photo).

Bellevue Fire Dept., family send memorial for fallen firefighter to Rose Parade

Two years ago, around 150 Bellevue firefighters lined the halls of Virginia Mason Hospital to say goodbye to their comrade, Deanna Carr. An American flag had been draped over the body of the firefighter of 22 years as doctors wheeled her body into the operating room to start the organ donation process.

“They were awash in emotion. They had never seen anything like this before,” former Bellevue firefighter and current Deputy Chief of Eastside Fire and Rescue Richard Burke said. “But that was the respect and what she deserved. That was our way of keeping her memory alive.”

But in the midst of their sorrow, the crowd found a reason to smile. Even in her death, Carr was giving the gift of life.

“The thing that I remember most were the faces of everyone that was there — her friends, her family and her coworkers. Everyone’s face sticks out to me because there was so much to read. First and foremost, a lot of grief. I thought, “Wow, this person must have really, really mattered to people,’ because the loss is so powerful and I can see how much pain, how much sadness, how much longing is in everyone’s face. And then I saw something really beautiful happen. As the process started to switch and we began to accept the very unfortunate truth that Deanna was not going to survive, I started to see pride on people’s faces. It really was about the way the conversation shifted to: Deanna’s going to save lives,” said LifeCenter Northwest employee Jonathan Merker, who works with families like Carr’s to arrange organ donations.

On Nov. 14, members of the Bellevue Fire Department gathered again to share stories of Carr as her family placed the finishing touches on a memorial portrait for Donate Life’s Rose Parade float on Jan. 2, 2017.

Carr is one of a group of organ donors being honored by the organization, which helps facilitate organ transplants. Each donor’s image was painted with seeds and other natural materials and people whose lives have been saved through organ donations will walk alongside the float.

Helping others through organ donation was a natural conclusion of Carr’s life, those close to her said. She loved being a firefighter and helping people during her 22 years of service.

Carr died in October 2014 after a diving accident. Despite the inherent dangers of the job, the Bellevue Fire Department has never lost a firefighter in the line of duty. Carr’s death during a recreational activity hit the fire department and her family hard.

“She was here one day and then gone … We didn’t have any time to reconcile this in our brains, it was just upon us,” said Burke, who entered the fire department around the same time as Carr and trained with her.

In the aftermath, Bellevue fire brought specialists from an organ donation center to give a presentation to paramedics about organ donation and what they could do to help in the field and in their everyday lives.

Multiple people received organ donations from Carr. Surgeons were able to use her lungs, kidneys and liver.

“If we can help somebody in our passing, that’s important. If we can help another family … what a great tribute,” Burke said.

One of Deanna Carr’s sisters, center, and her mother, right, sprinkle seeds onto the florograph of Carr’s face that will ride atop Donate Life’s float in the 2017 Rose Parade (Allison DeAngelis/staff photo).

More in Life

Overlake nurse Michele McRae, Katherine Rogers (mom), Alice Rogers (baby), Elisabeth Hall and Emma Hall. Photo courtesy of Overlake Medical Center
‘For it is in giving that we receive’

A local 20-year-old woman celebrated her birthday by giving blankets to babies.

Freestone Capital Management announces new scholarship

The firm committed to providing $100,000 in financial support to 20 college students.

Screenshot of the Kanopy website.
King County brings the silver screen to local libraries

County library members will now have free access to an expansive film streaming service.

Poster courtesy of the Sammamish Valley Alliance
Sammamish Valley Spring Celebration

The celebration and its numerous events will take place from May 4 to 6.

Interlake High Chamber Orchestra earns perfect score

The students’ performance earned landmark evaluation at the World Strides Heritage Festival.

Local students among top 10 at state Geographic Bee

A Bellevue student won first place while a Bothell student won sixth place.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Humane
Seattle Humane to take pets from Kauai Humane Society

The shelter aims to alleviate overcrowding after disastrous flooding on the island of Kauai.

Bellevue Library opens ideaX Makerspace hub

Google.org grant helps KCLS Foundation deliver STEAM programs to under-served youth in King County.

Newport High School presents ‘The Laramie Project’

Newport High School’s Drama Program will perform the production on April 20, 21, 27 and 28.

Most Read