A battalion chief and 24-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection died on Saturday after losing consciousness during an investigation in Santa Cruz County, a state official said Monday.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Rob Van Wormer was pronounced dead at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz at 8 p.m. Saturday, about an hour after he lost consciousness, Cal Fire spokeswoman Angela Bernheisel said.
Van Wormer died of natural causes, according to a Santa Cruz Sentinel report.
He was stricken while working on an investigation in Santa Cruz County and died despite numerous attempts to revive him, Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire, said in a statement.
His wife Jennifer and their two sons were brought to Santa Cruz and have been joined by his parents and his sister, according to Pimlott.
"This is a huge loss for Rob's family, his many friends, his Cal Fire family and the fire service as a whole," Pimlott said.
In honor of his passing, flags will be flown at half-staff and Cal Fire personnel will cover their badges in black shrouds until his memorial service, which is still being planned, Bernheisel said.
Van Wormer's brother, Kirk, is a Cal Fire battalion chief for Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties, Bernheisel said.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday expressed sadness at the chief's passing, and ordered flags at the Capitol in Sacramento flown at half-staff.
"We extend our deepest condolences to Rob's family, friends and everyone at Cal Fire during this difficult time," Brown said.
—Bay City News contributed to this report.