The public relies on emergency responders when bad things happen, but that doesn't necessarily mean that emergency responders are infallible. A drunk driving fatality in Yuba County underscores the fact that the people who put their lives on the line every day can be as fallible as those they help.
On Nov. 15, 2013, a number of Tahoe National Forest firefighters attended a party. Around 12:30 a.m., a 32-year-old firefighter left the party to walk several miles back to his barracks. Roughly 30 minutes later, a 26-year-old firefighter got behind the wheel of his car with six members of his crew as passengers.
As the firefighter drove away, he reportedly came upon a pickup truck going in the opposite direction and flashing its lights. The driver of the pickup had reportedly seen that the 32-year-old firefighter was lying in the roadway. The 26-year-old is believed to have continued driving forward without braking or changing direction, apparently running over the man in the road, who died from his injuries.
The car driver also returned his passengers to the barracks, where one of the passengers called 911 to report a body in the road. Two other passengers drove back to the scene to see what had happened.
Law enforcement officials interviewed the firefighter driving the car, and his blood-alcohol level tested at .20 percent. He also admitted running over the man and drinking while at the party. In all, he is charged with hit and run, two counts of DUI with injury and vehicular manslaughter.
It remains to be seen whether the family of the deceased firefighter will take legal action in civil court.
Source: Appeal-Democrat, "Firefighter makes emotional court appearance," Monica Vaughan, May 24, 2014
Source: Appeal-Democrat, "Felony charges in firefighter's death," Harold Kruger, May 3, 2014