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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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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | February 6, 2014 at 7:58 a.m. ― 3 years ago

could it be they were both right and both wrong in this instance?

more likely both acted out of ego.

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Avatar for user 'alpha444'

alpha444 | February 6, 2014 at 10:54 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Exactly how is a firefighter in surgical gloves, and treating an injured person equate to ego? Life-saving is a priority. The cop handled this poorly...if anyone was acting on ego, it was the cop...and I was one for 30 years.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | February 6, 2014 at 11:41 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Black eye for all sides there is no winner here. But that cop better get a couple days off to think about whats truly important.

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Avatar for user 'buddybear'

buddybear | February 6, 2014 at 5:54 p.m. ― 3 years ago

This wannabe cop ( CHP)
should be suspended without pay a for minimum 2 weeks. Cowardly CHP statement won't take responsibility for their employees pigheadedness!

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Avatar for user 'ez12beme'

ez12beme | February 6, 2014 at 6:05 p.m. ― 3 years ago

There is no reason the fireman should not sue this officer (that if he was not breaking the law where is his name and why it that and he being protected) along with the chief of police and the city/state for the actions of this officer. In 2003 in MO. and officer ordered a fireman to move the firetruck while responding to a vehicle accident, that seems to ring a bell here. when the 2003 incident was heard in federal court the officer was find $7,500 for his actions and accessed an additional $10,000 in punitive damages to send a clear message. All police are not scum as this one who clearly felt his job of directing traffic superseded that of a fireman who was in the process of saving a life. the chp's actions are not only inexcusable but against the law and he should be removed from service for those actions. The chief and the city/state are required to see that their officers are aware of the law in this case which they have not obviously done and the should be sued even perhaps by the parties injured in the accident for hampering the emergency service/treatment.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 7, 2014 at 9:03 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Amazing! I agree with Mikkkey! Absolutely it was ego on both sides!

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Avatar for user 'Nevada_Willis'

Nevada_Willis | February 7, 2014 at 10:46 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Where this incident turns badly for the CHP officer involves breach of procedure. According to radio tapes, Fire-Rescue was on-scene first. A fire captain was thus the Incident Commander until formally relieved. Even when relieved of overall command, Fire-EMS is in charge of patient extrication, care and safety.

In this incident it appears that the arriving officer never officially placed himself in charge. Even if he had, under ICS protocols you don't issue orders to someone else's subordinate unless an extreme safety issue exists. That engine Captain needs to know where his resources and personnel are while he/she is engaged in hazardous life saving activities.

Back in the day while working an accident on Hwy 24 I had a similar run-in with an aggressive CHP officer, although I wasn't handcuffed and I did receive an apology from the sergeant. The importance of Fire's stance in these matters was illustrated a few years later on that same highway when a whole fire crew was mowed down while working an accident on the shoulder.

Protecting the scene is Job-1. Period. Perhaps after this incident CHP will get the message.

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