CHP cuffs firefighter for not moving truck at highway accident

Feb. 6, 2014 at 8:53 AM
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CHULA VISTA, Calif., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The California Highway Patrol and the Chula Vista Fire Department said a patrol officer's handcuffing and detaining a firefighter was a communication issue.

The Chula Vista firefighter parked his truck behind an ambulance in the fast lane of Interstate 805 at the site of an accident with injuries Tuesday. Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said fire crews are trained to position their rigs to block oncoming traffic for safety, U-T San Diego reported Wednesday.

The highway patrol officer, whose name has not been released, told firefighter-engineer Jacob Gregoire to move the engine or he would be arrested, Hanneman said. He said Gregoire, who was checking for victims, answered that he'd have to check with his captain.

A television news team captured video of Gregoire jumping over a freeway divider, putting his hands behind his back and being cuffed. The CHP officer put Gregoire in the back seat and detained him for a few minutes. He was not arrested.

Supervisors from both agencies met at the crash site and Gregoire was released, Hanneman said.

"The CHP is going to investigate," Hanneman said. "I think a lot of this had to do with communication."

One of the two people in the crashed car was taken to a hospital, U-T San Diego said.

Hanneman and San Diego Fire Chief Javier Mainard met with CHP Lt. Karyn Mentink and others at Chula Vista fire headquarters Wednesday to discuss the incident.

"We talked about not wanting this to occur again,"Hanneman said. "We talked about joint training and education."

In a joint statement, the agencies called the matter an "unfortunate incident [that was] not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together."

Hanneman said Gregoire "did exactly what he was trained to do. He feels he made the right decision and I support him."

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