Phoenix firefighter who died broke his neck in fall

Matthew David Goodnature, the 21-year-old Phoenix firefighter who died Tuesday while taking a break from working the Launch fire near Four Mile Lake, fatally broke his neck during an accidental fall, a detective from the Klamath Falls Sheriff's Office said.

Preliminary autopsy results show Goodnature fractured his vertebrae near where the neck meets the skull, Detective Nick Kennedy said.

"It was just an accidental fall and he injured his neck," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said a full autopsy and toxicology report is due back within the next several weeks.

One of Goodnature's crew members found him lying dead over a downed log about 50 yards from a forest road near fire camp at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kennedy said.

The area was not very steep, but Goodnature may have slipped on a stone before falling backwards onto a small downed log, Kennedy said.

Goodnature left the fire line of the Launch fire Tuesday morning to accompany one of his crew members suffering from heat exhaustion back to fire camp, Kennedy said.

— Sam Wheeler

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