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CHP Calls Chula Vista Firefighter’s Arrest At Crash Scene ‘Unfortunate Incident’

Authorities sought Wednesday to determine what led a California Highway Patrol officer to handcuff and briefly detain a firefighter at the scene of a South Bay freeway accident that injured several people.

Chula Vista Fire Department engineer Jacob Gregoire was among emergency personnel responding to the crash on Interstate 805, near Telegraph Canyon Road, when the confrontation occurred about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The CHP officer, whose name was not released, took Gregoire into custody and handcuffed him following a discussion over whether a fire engine needed to be moved, according to Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman.

The patrolman then put Gregoire into the back of a squad car, where he remained for several minutes before being released, the chief said.

"Our goal at an emergency is to secure the scene and begin emergency care and transport victims to the hospital as soon as possible," Hanneman said. "Last night, there were two injured passengers our crew needed to reach and treat in a rollover vehicle accident ... While we work very well together with the CHP 99 percent of the time, we need to find out what happened last night and how we can improve training and communication to prevent something like this from happening in the future."

The fire chief praised his personnel's response to the accident and the detainment of Gregoire.

"I am very proud of how (Gregoire) and the other firefighters on the scene handled the situation," Hanneman said.

Update: 5:19 p.m.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Hanneman and CHP Chief Jim Abele issued the following statement:

"Last night there was an unfortunate incident at the scene of a traffic collision on I-805, where both our agencies had responded. Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes.

Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.

This morning representatives from both agencies met to discuss the incident to improve communication and ensure the highest level of service is provided to the public. This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together."

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