Joshua Tree park rangers suppress fire, save victim of plane crash

Jeremie Johnston and Danielle Sandoval receive award
Jeremie Johnston and Danielle Sandoval receive award from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. DOI photo.

Two employees of Joshua Tree National Park received the Department of the Interior’s Valor Award on May 8, 2014 from Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell for rescuing the victim of a plane crash.

On July 11, 2011, Jeremie M. Johnston and Danielle L. Sandoval were driving to the site of a Youth Conservation Corps trail project in Joshua Tree National Park in southern California when Ms. Sandoval noticed a puff of smoke on the horizon. They discovered that it was coming from a plane crash about half a mile from a road. Fuel leaking from the wreckage was intensifying a small brush fire near the pilot who had been ejected from the plane. Assuming there could be an explosion, they moved the YCC personnel to a safe distance and reported the incident to dispatch.

After they suppressed the fire so that they could access the pilot who was calling for help, they removed him from immediate danger and using their wilderness first aid skills administered first aid to life threatening wounds and severe burns.

Simultaneously, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Sandoval instructed a group of ten YCC members to provide guidance to rescue personnel arriving at the access road. The pilot was transported to a hospital where he began recuperating. Without the quick and decisive response of Mr. Johnson and Ms. Sandoval a life could have been lost in the accident.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Joshua Tree park rangers suppress fire, save victim of plane crash”

  1. Bill G

    Are you related at all to Don and Sandy Gabbert of the Salinas / Monterey area? We have known them for years through church.


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