- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A wildland firefighter who died after a summer training run had a heart attack, although he had passed written and physical medical tests earlier this year, according to federal officials.

Terry Sonner, 33, of Hammett, collapsed after running 2 miles on June 10. He was pronounced dead later that day.

Sonner’s last physical examination was in 2014, according to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management investigative report released in early November. He had cleared both a medical questionnaire and physical work capacity test earlier this year.

Just after the run, Sonner was laughing with colleagues before losing consciousness, the report said. He then had a seizure that lasted about 15-20 seconds. After briefly regaining consciousness, co-workers attempted to help Sonner stand, but he collapsed again.

Sonner was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

“We can’t predict if something like this could happen. But we are constantly trying to do our best if we can prevent any fatality possible, whether that’s during a training exercise or on the fire,” National Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto said.

Sonner had been a BLM firefighter for 14 years, spending most of his career between southern Idaho and Nevada. He had spent last winter driving for a private trucking company before returning to firefighting for this year’s wildfire season. Ten days before his death, Sonner had accepted a new role as superintendent for the BLM’s Boise district office.

Heart attacks and other medical maladies have claimed six of the 13 wildland firefighters who have died in the U.S. this year - making it the top cause of death for the second year in a row. Other causes of deaths were smoke inhalation and flames, falling trees and driving and aviation accidents. Sonner is the only wildland firefighter who died on the job in Idaho this year.

Wildland firefighters are required to undergo a physical exam every three years as well as complete an annual medical questionnaire. Questionnaires are reviewed by medical contractors, who are in charge of determining whether a firefighter should see a doctor.

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