A line of dozens of fire engines and trucks rolled onto the Merced County Fairgrounds on Friday to bring a firefighter who died tragically this month to his memorial service.
The engines surrounded a limousine carrying the family of Clayton Ogden, who lived in Merced for more than two decades before dying of stomach cancer on Aug. 1. He was a Santa Cruz firefighter for about 18 years, according to firefighters.
The 47-year-old’s cancer diagnosis came without warning after an injury during a fire drill about 10 weeks ago, Mike Bonifay, Ogden’s brother-in-law and close friend, previously told the Sun-Star. Doctors discovered cancer had spread to his brain, spinal cord, lungs, colon and bones.
“I’m going to miss that guy,” Bonifay said Friday. “We laughed, and we would laugh so much. ... And, we used to sit back and have conversations about what it means to be fathers, husbands and parents. Like you, I’m sad today.”
I’m going to miss that guy. ... I’m sad today.
Mike Bonifay, Ogden’s brother-in-law and close friend
Ogden was given the Medal of Valor for using his body to shield a civilian who had tripped and was caught in the middle of the firefight between police officers and a suspect in 2014, according to his department.
A native of Dos Palos, Ogden leaves behind his wife, Rebekah, and three children, Colby, Sam and Lily, according to firefighters. The family carried his remains into the service in a box.
“Clayton was one cape short of being a superhero, though he would give everyone else credit,” his family wrote in an obituary.
Clayton Ogden was given the Medal of Valor for using his body to shield a civilian who had tripped and was caught in the middle of the firefight between police officers and a suspect in 2014, according to his department.
In February 2013, Ogden shielded a woman from gunshots just minutes after two Santa Cruz Police Department detectives were gunned down by a 35-year-old man who was being investigated for sexual assault, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
“I laid on top of her and told her to keep calm and stay down, don’t move,” Ogden told the Sentinel. “It happened so fast. I’m still kinda stunned by it. It was the worst day I’ve ever had in 20 years.”
The family has set up the Clayton Ogden Scholarship Fund through Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union, 1021 Olivewood Drive in Merced. For those who want to donate, the account number is 22457–35.