When forensic artist Johnny Castro heard of the heroic effort of Franklin Trejos to shield a pet golden retriever during the Lahaina wildfires, he was moved to paint a portrait.
Based on news accounts of lives lost, 68-year-old Franklin Trejos initially stayed behind on Aug. 8 to help his longtime friend and retired fire captain Geoff Bogar to save Bogar’s house and help neighbors, according to The Associated Press.
As flames closed in, they realized they had to flee for survival, and went to their own cars. Bogar made it out, eventually, after crawling on the ground and being found by a police patrol. Trejos did not.
Bogar returned the next day to find the remains of his friend, Trejos, in the back seat of his car, lying on the remains of Bogar’s 3-year-old golden retriever, Sam, to protect him.
Castro, a Philadelphia-based forensic composite artist and U.S. Army combat veteran, has completed hundreds of digitally hand-drawn portraits of heroes killed in the line of duty as well a few victims of crime.
The story moved him because he also has a 3-year-old golden retriever named Winston.
“Retrievers are very loyal,” he said. “(Winston) was sitting on my lap while I was painting. It was a very personal thing. I don’t even know what I would do if I was in that situation. He was just very brave, very heroic for staying with the dog in his final moments.”
Castro said he spoke with Trejos’ mother and niece, and has sent them prints of the painting in the mail for free. He also spoke with Bogar and his wife, Shannon Weber-Bogar, and will be sending them prints as well.
Weber-Bogar is quoted by AP saying, “God took a really good man.”
The dog belonged to Bogar and his wife, said Castro. Trejos had been staying with them, and loved Sam like he was his own.
The story was shared on numerous media outlets. According to accounts, Trejos was a native of Costa Rica and was remembered as an adventurer, animal lover and nature lover.
In 2020, Castro also completed portraits of Honolulu Police Department officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama, who were shot and killed while responding to reports of an assault in Diamond Head.
Castro said he has been struck by the devastation of the Maui wildfires, and that he may do more portraits of survivors as more stories emerge.
“I want to try and honor people from this tragedy,” he said. “I just do them out of the good of my heart, and ship them out. I don’t ask for money.”