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.
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.
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.