An off the clock California Highway Patrol officer earned the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor after saving a severely injured victim from possible wrongful death after a truck accident. The Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor is known as the highest honor that California presents to their public servants. Officer Ryan Ayers earned this medal for his off-duty actions during the aftermath of a fiery vehicle collision in Buellton.
THE SCENE OF THE TRUCK ACCIDENT
Ryan Ayers works in the CHP Moorpark Office. He explained that “There’s never really a clear line between working and not working when you’re in law enforcement. You just hope that you act appropriately when you (have to).”
On August 6, 2021, Ryan Ayers spotted the scene of the crash when he was driving north on the 101 Freeway. He was headed to San Luis Obispo County on a family trip. Four other people were in his car that day. His wife, Jamie, their young daughters Delainie and Hadlie, and Jamie’s mother were all passengers in the vehicle.
Ayers was driving toward the intersection of Highway 101 and Jonata Park Road when he saw an enormous cloud of dust in the distance. He noticed that there was a semi-trailer in the center median of the southbound lane. The semi-trailer was not moving and car parts were completely scattered across the highway.
Ayers immediately headed towards the scene of the accident.
As Ayers was heading towards the scene, he saw that there was a flatbed truck that drove off the roadway and through a fence. The truck rolled down into the bushes. Ayers then approached the flatbed truck in an attempt to save the driver. He told a person walking nearby to get a fire extinguisher from the other truck.
SAVING THE VICTIM FROM WRONGFUL DEATH
Lieutenant Jeremy Key, Ayers’ commander, explained that “Without regard for his own safety, Officer Ayers climbed up to the driver’s door and attempted to open it.”
The door of the flatbed truck would not open due to the damage caused by the crash. Ayers was forced to climb around a large number of pallets before he was able to reach the passenger door. Those pallets were strapped onto the truck.
Once Ayers opened the door, he saw that the male driver was hunched over, unresponsive, and bleeding. Ayers was forced to clear debris within the vehicle to get to the driver. Heavy smoke and flames were beginning to spread throughout the inside of the truck.
In a letter written to CHP leaders, Lieutenant Key described how Ayers risked possible burns and smoke inhalation as he was removing the driver from his seat and carrying him out of the car. He wrote that Ayers was about 2 to 3 feet away from the fire. He said “At any point during the rescue, the semi-truck could have exploded and caused significant injuries or death to Officer Ayers.”
15 Seconds after Ayers safety removed the victim from the vehicle, the semi-truck became fully engulfed in flames.
Ayers’ wife, Jamie, saw the flames and called 911.
According to the TO Acorn, Ryan Ayers remained with the truck accident victim on the scene as he was regaining his consciousness. They both waited on the side of Jonata Park Road for the fire department and Buellton CHP to arrive.
Ayers noted that the driver had severe injuries but ultimately survived the accident.
AWARDED FOR RESCUING THE TRUCK ACCIDENT VICTIM
Early February 2023, Ryan Ayers was invited to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Sacramento mansion for the Medal of Valor ceremony. This was the first time the ceremony was being held at that location.
Ayers’ family and CHP supporters were in attendance at the ceremony.
Newsom complimented both Ayers and another CHP officer who was honored for saving a child from being smothered. He said “The heroes we are honoring today are men who showed extraordinary compassion, bravery and sacrifice.”
Even though he was off the clock, Ayers believed that his actions during the day of the accident were just part of the job.
Ayers revealed that “We always think of law enforcement as a profession, which it is but it’s also a way of life…You never know when you’re going to get that call.”
If you have any questions regarding a truck accident case, you should contact a Personal Injury Attorney immediately.