High Desert SP transportation team witnesses crash, lends assistance

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Photo by Lt. Gregory Crowe, High Desert State Prison

On a recent mid-morning transport, two staff members from High Desert State Prison narrowly missed being involved in an accident, but one of the officers jumped in to help while the other stayed with the inmate.

Correctional Officers Terry Lightsey and Douglas Sykes were transporting an inmate to an outside hospital and witnessed the accident at 9:50 a.m. on June 9.

Officer Douglas Sykes was part of the High Desert SP activation team.

Officer Douglas Sykes was part of the High Desert SP activation team.

“We were heading toward Reno on Highway 395 and I see this pick-up truck in the northbound lane ready to turn left,” recalled Officer Sykes. “And I see this van and the van hit the back of the pickup. I swerved and we got hit with some debris.”

They stopped, assuming they had been involved in the accident.

“We checked on our inmate to make sure he was OK. The Highway Patrol arrived,” Officer Sykes said. “My partner stayed with the inmate and made sure he was secure.”

People in the truck were injured.

“The Highway Patrol officer was helping keep the person’s neck stable in the back seat of the truck,” Officer Sykes said. “He asked if I could take over while he went to perform other duties. I stayed and helped until paramedics arrived, about 15 or 20 minutes.”

A man and woman were in the truck. Through conversations with the female, he learned she was a current HDSP employee and her husband was retired from the prison.

“It was a whole bunch easier when I found out it was a fellow employee,” Officer Sykes recalled. “Regardless, stopping to help was the right thing to do.”

The man tried to speak a few times and Officer Sykes reminded him to stop moving and allow his wife to do the talking. The Officer helped keep them calm while they waited for help. When the paramedics arrived, and CHP examined the CDCR state vehicle to determine there was no damage, they were released from the scene.

Officer Sykes has been with the department for 22 years.

“I started at the academy in May 1994,” he said. “Then I went to CCI and came to HDSP in January of 1996. I was part of the third wave of the HDSP activation team.”

Warden Suzanne Peery said she’s proud of Officer Sykes.

“Officer Sykes has always been one of High Desert State Prison’s most dedicated and respected officers,” she said. “His actions reflect on HDSP and the Department as a whole. Officer Sykes is a valuable member of our team.”