UPDATED: Maple Ridge firefighter a hero in life and death

Dennis TeBoekhorst was a Maple Ridge firefighter who died this week. His fellow firefighters are rallying support to help his grieving family. - Special to The TIMES
Dennis TeBoekhorst was a Maple Ridge firefighter who died this week. His fellow firefighters are rallying support to help his grieving family.
— image credit: Special to The TIMES

Even in death, Dennis TeBoekhorst is still saving lives.

The Maple Ridge firefighter donated his other kidney, as well as his liver, lungs, and eyes to waiting recipients on Wednesday, just hours after he was declared dead.

The 42-year-old lieutenant collapsed last Friday, while “pursuing his passion of fishing” in Ruskin, explained fire chief Howard Exner.

There’s now a call for help to build a scholarship for his young grieving children.

A passerby spotted TeBoekhorst in distress, and with aid of others fishing in the area, administered help and called 9-1-1. Maple Ridge's Rob Birnie was among those who was out fishing in the Stave River, off 287th Street that day.

He's known TeBoekhorst since they were both attending Golden Ears Elementary years ago. While they were not what he would call close friends, they remembered each other and always chatted when they ran into each other at the fishing hole.

That morning, TeBoekhorst walking away from the river just before 9:30 a.m. boasting that he'd caught two "nice fish."

As Birnie recalled, a few minutes later, a young guy came running down from the parking lot asking for help to call 9-1-1. He reported a man was down, conscious, trying to get up, but in need of emergency assistance.

Birnie and two other men, all of them with CPR training, ran to TeBoekhorst's aid. Able to speak, but unable to get up, TeBoekhorst was able to communicate that he fell and hit his head on the bumper of his truck.

"You couldn't meet a nicer guy…and a very good fisherman," Birnie said of his elementary school classmate. "We were very hopeful he was going to make it."

“Despite the best of care starting with the firefighter in Mission, all the way to the excellent doctors and nurses in ICU, it was discovered that Dennis suffered a catastrophic brain injury that he would not be able to recover from,” Exner later explained after his fallen comrade's death.

In 2010, TeBoekhorst donated one of his kidneys to his daughter, who was suffering from bilateral kidney failure.

His family has been a big part of the BC Children’s Hospital charity programs and strong proponents of the organ donor program, Exner explained.

“True to his very giving nature, his organs will be donated.”

“Dennis was a ‘go to’ firefighter, always ready to answer the call of duty, from many charity events to any call. Being large and in charge, he will be sorely missed here at the fire department,” Exner said.

This is being treated as a line of duty death, the chief explained.

“The thoughts and prays of his firefighting family are heartily extended to his wife (Melissa), children, family and his many friends,” he said.

Flags will fly at half mast at Maple Ridge’s Firehall No. 1 until Te Boekhorst’s services.

And for now his comrades are doing what they can to help the family, including soliciting help in supporting with the scholarship fund for his kids, Grace and Calym.

“Dennis was only 42 years old and leaves behind a huge hole that can never be replaced,” Exner said.

“But we can make it a little easier by ensuring Melissa doesn’t have to worry about their financial future. Please find this page.”

Garden Hills funeral home is handling the arrangements and announced the service will be Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 10:30 a.m. at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church.

To find out more about getting on the transplant and organ donation list, visit BC Transplant website.

That's something TeBoekhorst would have wanted to come out of this, for more people to register for organ donation, Birnie said.

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