By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications
A correctional sergeant on his way to work at Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp was the first on the scene of three-vehicle accident involving a California Highway Patrol officer and the first to render aid.
It was shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, March 28, when Sgt. Mike Gomes pulled up to the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 16 and Old Sacramento Road in Amador County.
According to CHP investigators, a CHP officer was watching a vehicle speeding past her in her rear-view mirror and did not notice a vehicle in front of her was stopping. The CHP car crashed into the rear of the other vehicle, forcing it into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by another car.
“It was three cars smoking and leaking fluid. I must have missed it by 10 seconds,” Sgt. Gomes said. “I pulled over and stopped to help if I could. The first car was a CHP vehicle. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know what was going on. Then I started hearing people screaming for help so I went into the mode of helping. This accident was a bad one.”
He could hear the muffled cries of the CHP officer.
“All the air bags were deployed into the car and the CHP officer was yelling she was trapped. I was able to get the door open (and help her) and the officer said she would radio for help,” he said.
By then, another person had stopped to help and was setting up flares. The sergeant turned his attention to the most damaged vehicle – the one pushed into oncoming traffic.
“I couldn’t get any of the doors open,” he said. “The car was basically destroyed. I talked to the lady who was semiconscious in the car. She passed away there.”
He helped pull other people from their vehicles.
Several people were taken to the hospital and treated, according to a KCRA news report. The CHP officer was treated and later released from the hospital.
CHP investigators took the sergeant’s information and he continued on his way to work.
“The investigators called me later for more information and I’ve talked to them a couple of times since,” Sgt. Gomes said.
He said he stopped to help because it’s in his nature but he saw a lot of people who simply drove around the accident.
“A lot of people just drove by. Personally, I was in an accident once and other people helped me. I probably wouldn’t have made it if they hadn’t helped me,” he said. “It’s part of our job to help. I tried to bring order into the chaos. I always stop when there are accidents.”