EMT killed in motorcycle crash remembered for caring about others

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-21-2023 10:07 PM

CLAREMONT — The 29-year-old man who died in a motorcycle crash in Charlestown on Tuesday night spent his own life saving people in vehicle collisions and other life-threatening situations, colleagues and friends recalled this week.

Ian Pierce, a paramedic with Golden Cross Ambulance in Claremont, was killed when the motorbike he was riding collided with vehicle on Route 12 and he was thrown into the opposite lane, where his body was struck by an oncoming tractor trailer truck, according to Charlestown police. Pierce was later pronounced dead at the scene.

“Everyone one here is completely heartbroken and devastated,” said Allyn Girard, who with her husband, Dale Girard, operates Golden Cross Ambulance, which Pierce joined only seven months ago after walking through the door one day explaining that he was unsatisfied with his desk job and wanted to return to working as a paramedic.

“For 29, Ian was way beyond his years. A real solid guy, a solid citizen,” Allyn Girard said Thursday. “He was passionate about life.”

The driver of the vehicle behind Pierce’s motorcycle, a 19-year-old woman from Charlestown, and the operator of tractor trailer rig out of Wappingers Falls. N.Y., are both cooperating with the ongoing investigation, Charlestown police said in a news release. Police are being assisted by a team from the New Hampshire State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit.

Pierce had moved to the Upper Valley 18 months ago from Michigan, where he grew up and also worked as an EMS paramedic. He initially took a job with international emergency responder Global Rescue in Lebanon but sought out a job Golden Cross Ambulance — around the corner from his apartment in Claremont — because he missed the nonstop action of working on the ground, colleagues and family members said.

“He was always smiling, always in a good mood,” said Glen Gardner, a paramedic with Golden Cross who worked shifts with Pierce and bonded with him over their shared Catholic faith. “Ian was always positive. He never had a negative thing to say about anyone.”

Pierce’s faith led him immediately to become involved and volunteer with the local Knights of Columbus chapter, for whom he led an effort to secure medical equipment for local Catholic Churches.

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“He came up with this plan to get defibrillators into the field, put them in the churches because they should have them, and then train people how to use them,” Dale Girard said. “That’s the kind of guy he was.”

His plan was aimed at the St. Mary’s and St. Joseph Catholic churches in Claremont. He was scheduled to conduct his last training session on the machines with staff of St. Joseph on Wednesday morning.

Pierce, who grew up riding dirt bikes with his younger brother back home in Michigan, had purchased the 2018 Honda motorcycle on which he was riding less than two weeks earlier, colleagues and family members said. He was traveling south on Route 12 toward Claremont at around 10:30 p.m. when the collision occurred.

“His mother and I always discouraged the road bike, but Ian was an adventurous young soul,” his father, Bill Pierce, recalled on Thursday, his voice choking with emotion as he recounted his son’s gifted athletic aptitude for skiing — both downhill and on water — golf, scuba diving and outdoor sports like fishing and hunting.

“Anything he did he did to the nth degree,” Bill Pierce said, adding that despite Ian’s drive to excel, what made him proudest of his son was “his compassion with people and involvement with the church.”

Becoming a paramedic was natural for his son, he said, noting that he had exposure to aspects of the field growing up, with his mother a nurse and Bill Pierce himself in the medical supplies business. Initially Ian had thought about becoming a physician’s assistant, but “he didn’t want to be in an office all day. He wanted to be out and about.”

His son, except for a brief period when he was younger, always had a strong religious faith that guided his actions and daily life, Bill Pierce said. So strong that he ribbed his son that the Catholic priests were recruiting him for the clergy.

“He said, ‘Yeah, they are. But I told them I want a family,’ ” Bill Pierce recalled his son replying.

As paramedic, Ian Pierce would work two 24-hour shifts at Golden Cross each week, Dale Girard said. Girard estimates that, since joining Golden Cross in February, Pierce was dispatched on “250 calls or better.”

“Ian knew his skills. It was all about the patient. If Ian felt his patient necessitated going the extra miles to Dartmouth Hitchcock, then that’s where he took them ... he would make the moral decision,” Allyn Girard said.

Plus, Ian was just fun to work a shift with, colleagues said.

Kirsten Moilanen, who was Ian’s partner on the overnight shift with an ambulance service in Fenton, Mich., said that between calls they would park the ambulance behind a Target store and Ian would open his laptop to watch “fishing documentaries and fishing shows” on YouTube and share his enthusiasm for the sport.

If he wanted to get a laugh out of her, he would bring out “these crazy night vision goggles” and climb the store’s fire escape like a sailor ascending to the crow’s nest.

But it was Ian’s passion for his work and care for others that made a profound impression upon her, Moilanen said.

The last most paramedics see of the people they transport is when they roll them through the hospital’s emergency room doors.

That wasn’t good enough for Ian, she said.

“When we would bring someone in later Ian would go back and check in on the patients we had brought in earlier in the evening.” Moilanen said. “He was just always wanting to make sure people were doing better.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.