A decorated Merced County Cal Fire captain was laid to rest Thursday after a traditional processional through the city of Merced and services at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Capt. Paul Rotondaro died in a traffic crash on Highway 140 near the Gustine airport, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Rotondaro had left the Gustine Cal Fire Station 74 and was heading to another station when the head-on collision occurred, Merced County Cal Fire spokesperson Scott McLean said.
Rotondaro started his Merced County firefighting career in 2006. He was selected as the 2018 Merced County Firefighter of the Year, according to the Merced County Office of Emergency Services.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who attended Thursday’s service, issued a statement honoring Rotondaro, calling him “a man who dedicated his life to protecting his fellow Californians. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and children, family, friends, and colleagues. His contribution to his community will not be forgotten.”