Silver State Hotshots firefighter killed after leap from Lake Britton Bridge “died doing what he loved”
BURNEY, Calif., — Officials have identified a Sparks, Nevada “thrill seeker” who died after leaping into Lake Britton from the Lake Britton Bridge along Highway 89 in Shasta County, plummeting some 60 feet into the cold water below last Wednesday, July 28. In addition to being an “experienced cliff/bridge jumper” as described later by Sheriff’s officials, the victim, 23-year-old Don Taylor Gorum, had been a member of the elite Silver State Hotshots firefighting crew since 2017, according to a GoFundMe created by family members.
The victim’s body was discovered several hours later by Shasta County Sheriff’s Dive Team members in 37 feet of “dark and muddy” water beneath the bridge, according to officials. Area locals and dive enthusiasts know well the dangers beneath the bridge, the worst of which include numerous lengths of rebar that can be found sticking up and out of large concrete blocks situated at the bottom of the section of the lake directly beneath the bridge.
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Gorum’s lifeless body was pulled from the lake around 7:45 p.m. by Shasta County Sheriff’s Dive Team members. They had responded to the lake to assist deputies, CHP ground and aviation officers, and others, who had been searching for the victim since he made the 4:15 p.m. jump.
Friends and witnesses at the scene, who had filmed Gorum’s jump and later provided those videos to investigating officials, later told them that the jump initially looked good, but the landing may have been what ultimately led to his death.
“The video showed the victim jump off the bridge and attempt a flipping maneuver before landing awkwardly in the water,” Shasta County Sheriff’s Sergeant Renfer had previously reported; adding that nobody from the group ever saw Gorum resurface after the fateful leap.
“You died doing what you loved, pushing your boundaries, flying through the air in what must have felt like your last breath of utter freedom and self expression,” Raylene Gorum has since said of her younger brother; adding she was thankful that “in the end, it was the water that took you not fire.”
After learning of her younger brother’s death, Raylene Gorum wrote a touching social media tribute to the man she recalled as “an elite forest firefighter” who “literally saved lives.”
“You bottled some of this bravery and physical excellence for yourself and became an avid cliff diver,” she explained; adding she was thankful that “in the end, it was the water that took you not fire.”
“You were just born cool and maybe a little too brave,” Raylene described. “You died doing what you loved, pushing your boundaries, flying through the air in what must have felt like your last breath of utter freedom and self expression.”
“In your nearly 24 years here, you found your calling, followed your bliss and brought infinite warmth, light and laughter to every room you entered. Somehow you touched and manage to keep in touch with a great many people in your short life,” she continued.
“It is both heartbreaking and oh so beautiful to witness at this moment,” the grieving sister added. “We are all aching to hear your easy laugh once more, to join you on your next adventure.”
A Silver States Hot Shots firefighter since 2017, 23-year-old Don Gorum. of Sparks, Nevada, died last Wednesday after leaping about 60 feet from the Lake Britton Bridge along Hwy 89 into the cold waters of Lake Britton below. Gorum family/GoFundMe photos
In a GoFundMe since created by family members Andrew Gorum and others, the victim was described as “an amazing son and grandson, as well as a brother to two younger and older siblings.”
As of this update, the fundraiser had accumulated more than $25,000, which will be used toward the victim’s burial expenses and other costs.
Anyone with further information regarding this investigation or who filmed the deadly leap and has not yet shared their recordings with investigators are encouraged to contact the Shasta County Sheriff’s Burney Division at (530) 245-6070. Callers can refer to incident file number 21S024689 and can remain anonymous.
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Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.