Young father, firefighter dies in electrocution accident

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Canyon Lake residents and the San Bernardino City Fire Department are mourning the loss of one of their own this week. Resident and firefighter John Ruppert succumbed to his injuries after being electrocuted on Thursday, June 9, while doing a routine maintenance check on a houseboat.

The Rupperts were vacationing in Lake Powell when the tragedy occurred. The exact cause and nature of the electrocution are still under investigation by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of John’s co-workers traveled to Utah to be with his body until it could be brought home on Tuesday, June 14. A procession took place on local freeways to escort the body from the Ontario International Airport to the Evans-Brown Mortuary in Sun City. Firefighters were staged along the route as a show of respect.

John, 35, began his career in the Upland Fire Department. He’s worked for the past decade at the San Bernardino City Fire Department. “He was a likeable guy with wit, charm and a positive attitude,” says friend and fellow firefighter Jared Cutler.

Jared says, “John was a perfectionist in all he did. He wasn’t large in stature, but his personality and passion for everything he did was infectious. Whenever John was around he was smiling, laughing and having a good time.”

John and his wife Kristen met at a Starbucks in 2004. Ten years after they met, he still had the original piece of paper she wrote her phone number on that day. They married in Rome, Italy in 2008, and purchased a home in Canyon Lake later that same year. John purchased an Axis boat in 2010 and spent a lot of time on the back waters of Canyon Lake.

He was an  avid wakeboarder and a member of the Canyon Lake Wakeboard Club. Jared says, “John had a wakeboarding style of his own. He took 2nd place in the 2011 Firefighter Olympics.”

“John also cared about the community he served in about as much as he cared for wakeboarding. So much so that he wanted to share the one thing that gave him so much joy with nearly 50 to 60 inner city kids from San Bernardino, most of whom had never been on a boat before,” says Jared. “John set up the ‘Wake the World’ event by himself. It turned out to be a successful event and he had hopes to put together another one in the future.”

According to Jared, John also enjoyed snowboarding, dirt bike riding, paddleboarding and houseboating. He loved to spend time with his son at the track, and he really enjoyed vacationing in Lake Powell every year. He grew up vacationing in Lake Powell and wanted to pass that tradition on to his own family, so he bought a timeshare there.

Another friend, Jessica Yasumura, says, “John and Kristen did more things than some people do in a lifetime.”

To honor his friend, Jared plans to have a plaque dedicated to John and placed near the back waters in Canyon Lake where John spent much of his time.

John is survived by his wife, Kristen, and their two young children, 7-year-old Jackson and 4-year-old Keira. A GoFundMe account has been set up for to help pay for expenses. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/supporttheRupperts.

Services will be held on Monday, June 20, at 11 a.m. at Canyon Lake Community Church, 30515 Railroad Canyon Rd.

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Donna Ritchie