THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - A Cal Fire firefighter, who died Friday after being struck by a pickup truck along the eastbound I-10 on-ramp, has been identified as 41-year old Christopher Douglas.
Douglas, an eight year veteran of Cal Fire, was stationed in Thousand Palms but lived in Temecula, says Cal Fire. He is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and a 2 year old son.
The on-ramp was shut down for hours, as investigators combed the scene for clues into what may have caused the accident. California Highway Patrol says that just after 9:30 a.m. Friday, a pick-up truck, driven by 60-year old William Trimboli of Thousand Palms, side-swiped Douglas who had just stepped out of the fire engine cab for some unknown reason.
Douglas was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center where he later died. "This tragic accident affects the entire CAL FIRE family and deeply saddens all of the firefighting community," Chief John R. Hawkins (CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department) said in a statement. Douglas' body was escorted by a procession of police and firefighters to the Coroner's Office in Perris late Friday afternoon.
Trimboli was not hurt in the collision but was shaken up by the accident. Why the fire truck was on the side of the road, and why the firefighter was outside the truck, is unknown. The fire truck was en route to a rollover accident that happened near the Washington exit at around the same time. CHP is asking any witnesses to please contact them. The number of their Indio office is 760-772-8911.
"Please keep our employee, their family and their crew in your thoughts and prayers," said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director.
The Governor has also ordered that all flags be lowered to half staff.