Smokejumper dies one month after off duty injury in Alabama

A smokejumper based in Oregon passed away December 19 after being injured in an accident in Birmingham, Alabama on November 22. Ray Fernandez Rubio, 52, was staying overnight in Birmingham before returning home when, according to AL.com and Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates, he was injured in a fall while walking from a restaurant back to his hotel.

Below is an excerpt from their article:

It was just before midnight when Rubio was walking alone in the 2100 block of 11thAvenue South. Friends have said he had completed his most recent smokejumping assignment and was about to return to Oregon.

Authorities said he fell over a concrete railing into a parking garage that was one story below ground level. Yates said Rubio fell 12 to 15 feet, suffering a head injury and a broken knee. It wasn’t immediately clear how he was found, but he was taken to Grandview Medical Center because UAB Hospital was on trauma diversion.

Rubio, a husband and father, remained in the Intensive Care Unit until he died at 5:45 p.m. Monday. Yates said forestry officials have had a support team in Alabama to help Rubio’s family during his hospital stay.

On December 2 Adam C. Rondeau, a Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region, said that at the time of the injury, “[Mr. Rubio] was in travel status and staying overnight in Birmingham, Alabama, before returning home to Oregon.”

A GoFundMe account was set up for him that has raised over $33,000.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Rubio’s family and his coworkers at the Redmond, Oregon smokejumper base.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

1 thought on “Smokejumper dies one month after off duty injury in Alabama”

  1. It just goes to show you that situational awareness does not start when you get to the job, does not stop when you head home, situational awareness should be 100% wrap-around. You can jump out of aircraft in to burning forest and be aware of your environment, surroundings, what you are doing, what other people are doing 100%, but the job of staying alert and awake and aware shouldn’t stop until you’re in bed asleep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *