Above the Call: Mule Creek prison employee helps rescue injured man from ravine

Thomas Haeseker is a case records technician at Mule Creek State Prison.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

A Father’s Day trip turned into a rescue mission for a Mule Creek State Prison case records technician and his son.

Thomas Haeseker was enjoying his special day with his family on vacation and taking wilderness training with his young son, Hunter, when things quickly went downhill.

A young woman was very upset when her boyfriend, Chris, didn’t return from his dirt-bike ride the day before and was still missing.

“She had called 911 for search and rescue to find him. As she was telling me that, a CHP helicopter flew over my head and hovered,” said Haeseker. “I knew this was bad. I asked her where he would be riding and she said ‘around here somewhere.'”

Almost on cue, a Sheriff’s Deputy drove down the road into their camp to let them know a rider was missing.

“My wife Angie and my son started the Rhino to begin the search,” he said. “The Sheriff Deputy and I drove to a washed out ravine. The washout is about 70 feet across and 30 feet deep and over 100 yards long. We looked across the ravine and spotted him but he was not moving.”

A couple of other dirt-bike riders were standing on top of the washed-out road looking down at him.

“I climbed down the ravine and made my way across to him to find him badly injured and unable to move. The Deputy was trying to dispatch search and rescue to the ravine area, meanwhile the CHP helicopter was hovering 150 feet overhead unable to land. It brought back memories of the times I flew in Hueys that had painted beer cans covering the bullet holes (left over) from the Vietnam war when I was in the Marines and Navy more than 40 years ago,” said Haeseker.

He said it was a stressful situation but his experience and training kicked in. His time in the military, coupled with his training as a volunteer master diver on the Sacramento Sheriff’s dive team, served him in this situation.

Thomas Haeseker and his son, Hunter, 8, used their all-terrain vehicle to help rescue an injured dirt-bike rider.

“Something just clicks and you go to work. Nothing else matters. The dangers are a test of your skills you have learned to overcome and now live by. This is not a video game, this is for real. Once contact is made, you stay with them no matter what happens,” he said. “I checked to see if he was still here with us and we started talking. ‘Please don’t leave me. I’ve been here all night and I can’t move,’ he says to me.”

Haeseker assured the crash victim he wasn’t leaving.

“I was concerned about hypothermia and no hydration could cause blood clotting due to the lack of movement for 14 hours,” he said. “I had Hunter, my son, make his way back to the Rhino to get water and a blanket. That 8-year-old did not hesitate or ask twice. My wife and son also replaced all the ‘danger’ flagging that was taken down on the side he drove off of. Who would remove ‘danger’ flags?”

The Deputy called in the information to let his people know Chris was found alive but severely injured and a medical evacuation was needed.

“My first aid evaluation was: No blood on the ground – which is good, breathing was slow but normal, broken left hip, broken left wrist, possible broken ribs, major black eye, possible neck and back injuries. He had landed on a red ant nest and had numerous bug bites from red ants and mosquitoes. The red ants were crawling all over his black eye, which is why he put his helmet back on,” he said. “Pioneer Fire arrived with one EMT and driver, the best driver I’ve ever seen. He drove a city fire truck down a logging road, and backed it out. CHP/EMT was needed to help stabilize and remove Chris from the crash site.”

They then used the winch on Haeseker’s Rhino to pull everything out of the ravine.

“We carried him to the back of his father’s car and took him to the chopper that landed on the road,” he said. “The last thing I saw was the chopper flying over us, the pilot waving. I’m hopeful that Chris will be OK and  I’m happy to have been able to help him.”


22 Responses

  1. Marty Friday, August 4, 2017 / 10:18 am

    First off, thank you for your service sir. Second thank you for helping and teaching your son the right thing to do. Thank you for your family in time of need of this young man. You see not all hero’s wear capes.

  2. Jacqueline Monday, July 24, 2017 / 7:28 am

    Good to know we have people like this on our team.

  3. K Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    The Haesesker is true Angel of taking responsibility the rescue mission. The family made choice that never leave anyone behind to death under their eyes.

  4. Angel Bright Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    You two are awesome! Great Job Bestie and way to go Hunter! Wish there were more people like you two.

  5. Tami Holtz Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Wow, that is AWESOME.

  6. Yvette Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 9:28 am

    What an amazing story of courage and heart, you stepped in without hesitation something we need to see more of……………THANK YOU!!!!

  7. Jamie J Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 9:22 am

    Way to go Tom & Hunter! I know you have many hidden talents and now some are no longer “hidden!”
    So, proud of you and awesome job for passing it on to Hunter. 🙂

  8. Cheryl Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / 8:13 am

    Way to go Tom and Hunter! Awesome job.

  9. C.M.Perlow Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    Tom,what a Great Example you set for your family, and friends here at MCSP.Truly a Heart warming story.

  10. Tina Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    Awesome Job Tom and Hunter! Thankfully you were both there at the right time.

  11. Bonnie Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 11:56 am

    Wow! Your training in the service kicked in and your “Angel Wings” spread out! You are truly an angel sent to the right place and at the right time! Your son and wife I am sure are very proud of you also! May you and your family be blessed that you were able to help this man. Happy to know he was still alive and you were able to communicate with him until other help arrived.

    Thank you for sharing this story!

  12. Nancy Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 11:24 am

    You’ve taught Hunter well Tom. I know those roads and the hazards they can present. I just hope you’re around if my family is ever in trouble down there. MCSP is proud of you, one of our heroes.

  13. Melissa Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 11:05 am

    Incredible story. So glad you were there to help and for your courage. Thank you!

  14. Jeanette Lucas Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 11:00 am

    Wonderful job! A
    great teacher for your son! 🙂

  15. Kathy Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:56 am


  16. Tamara Reece Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:37 am

    Great job Tom! I’m so glad you and Hunter were in the right place at the right time, and that you were both willing and able to help!

  17. Irene Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:35 am

    This is a beautiful story. This took a family effort and one man’s expert military training. We need more heroes like you! Great job, Tom; I am proud of you!!!

  18. Duke Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Tom, we are all so blessed to have experienced level headed giving people in the world. You saved his life, and gave him peace during a very tramatic situation. Thank you for just being you, a good man, a great father, and a hero.

  19. Jamie Greathouse Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:25 am

    Great job Tom! You were the best person to be at the scene. Right place right time! Tell Hunter I said good job as well! What a brave little 8 year old!

  20. Stephanie Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:21 am

    hoping for a full recovery due to your quick wits and support. how awesome for your young son to see you, his dad, a hero in action.

  21. Valerie Estrella Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:20 am

    Amazing story of heroic bravery. Thank you so much!! A true Hero!!

  22. Bert Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Great job Tom!!!

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