Above the Call: High Desert prison officer, nurse help injured family in car accident

A car slid off the icy roadway and hit a tree, which pierced through the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard and front passenger seat.

By Lt. Gregory Crowe, AA/PIO
High Desert State Prison

A Sunday drive turned dangerous when a car slid on the ice-covered road and struck a tree, piercing the vehicle like a knight’s lance. A passing correctional officer and his wife, a nurse, were there to help the injured victims.

High Desert State Prison Correctional Officer Dominick Avila and his wife Dana, a registered nurse who also works at the prison, were driving on Highway 32 on March 5 when they saw another vehicle come around a corner. The road was covered in ice and the other vehicle lost control and struck a tree.

Like a lance, the tree went through the top part of the hood, the windshield, the dash, the passenger side seat and into the rear passenger area of the SUV.

The Avilas stopped their car and rushed to help. Two other vehicles also stopped to lend a hand.

A car slid off the icy roadway and hit a tree, which pierced through the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard and front passenger seat.

Officer Avila directed one bystander to move his vehicle to help with traffic and the other one to continue to drive towards the nearest town to get phone service to call for help. The accident happened in a cell-service dead zone.

One of the victims was a 9-year-old girl who was injured by the tree. She was bleeding from her upper body. RN Avila treated the girl while Officer Avila assisted the injured teenager. The teen suffered a broken leg and was trapped in the vehicle.

Officer Avila helped free the girl from the wreckage and began life saving measures to stop the bleeding caused by her injuries. The driver of the vehicle, the mother of the two girls, received only some small lacerations.

That’s when Officer Jason Mason and his wife Tonya arrived on scene to see if they could assist.

Officer Avila directed Officer Mason to move further down the hillside to slow traffic as it was a very dangerous area of the highway with many turns, made even more dangerous with all of the snow and ice on the roadway.

Retired Correctional Officer Mark Bortle stopped at the scene to assist with traffic as well.

A Cal Trans driver was passing by and used his CB radio to contact Chester Fire Department, CHP and emergency medical services.

Officer Avila and his wife continued to monitor the girls and maintain control of the bleeding from their injuries while they waited for help to arrive.

RN Dana Avila and Officer Dominick Avila helped save a family involved in a car accident.

The Avilas turned their attention to the mother and were able to calm her down.

Officer Dale Bradeen and his wife arrived and provided blankets and coats to the injured family to help keep their body temperatures at a safe level as they had been in the snow, ice and 20-degree temperature for about 30 minutes.

Officer Bradeen, using his medical training, rechecked the girls’ injuries to ensure they were stable.  At 4:30 p.m., CHP arrived and assisted with maintaining the scene until the Chester Fire Department arrived.

The Avilas then assisted the Fire Department with moving the girls and placing them on backboards for transportation.  The Avilas stayed with the girls, stabilizing their necks and heads and continuing to talk to them to keep them calm. Around 5 p.m., Forest Ranch Ambulance service arrived to transport the injured family to the hospital.


13 Responses

  1. E. Chilcott Monday, July 17, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    So many people getting involved. That’s awesome. I have been a part of countless civil/public emergencies and it seems NO ONE EVER wants to get involved. CO’s and Nurses from CDCR are great!
    Hope the family is healing well.

  2. Connie Davis Thursday, July 6, 2017 / 8:37 am

    So proud of our HDSP staff.

  3. G Norris, RN Wednesday, July 5, 2017 / 8:59 am

    OUTSTANDING! You are an example to all. Thank you. GOD bless you

  4. Francesca Goleman Wednesday, June 28, 2017 / 3:21 am

    Wow, thank goodness that a civil (meaning of the people) officer had the foresight to put some heart in his job and his wife not to take away from that role, teenage gals were listening to her, no doubt! So, what a team — married and giving back. You got game on this.

  5. Dana Kelly Tuesday, June 20, 2017 / 11:37 pm

    It’s nice to know that H.D.S.P. personnel have great team work out side the fence as well as inside! Thank you for helping those people. Instead of driving by you stopped and made a big difference to those in the accident. Thanks for getting involved! Great Job!

  6. wende rossi Sunday, June 4, 2017 / 3:42 am

    WOW! Awesome job both of you! You both really helped a family at a critical time, thank heavens you were there!
    RN Rossi

  7. Stella Wednesday, May 31, 2017 / 6:32 am

    Proud to say I’m a Momma of a LEO. You guys / gals are so awesome!

  8. C/O O. Wehagen Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 9:20 am

    Awesome help in a very scary situation!
    Thanks for going above and beyond.
    Makes everyone wearing the badge proud.

    • G. Ciani Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      Awesome Job, proud to hear of the great teamwork by our Officers

  9. Kathleen Hargis Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 9:19 am

    Awesome job

  10. Jane Rogan CDCR - C.I.W. Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 9:12 am

    Thank you to the Avilas for saving lives.

  11. Rob Gamberg Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 9:08 am

    That’s what I am talking about, HDSP staff handling their business. Proud of you guys and gals!

  12. L. Atilano Tuesday, May 30, 2017 / 8:52 am

    Awesome story. You both are were guardian angels that day and all the officers coming one by one. Wow, divine intervention. God bless all of you!! I hope the family is doing much better.

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