By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
On Dec. 18, 2020, while traveling home from a 12-hour duty shift at the Emergency Communications Center in San Bernardino, off-duty Cal Fire Communications Officer Barbara Loescher found herself at the scene of a fatal head-on collision on Highway 138 in the vicinity of Pilot Rock, near Crestline.
According to CHP Public Affairs Officer Jacob Griede, a 27-year-old male from Phelan was driving a Subaru Legacy eastbound, toward Crestline, when he collided with a westbound Kia Sedona driven by a 41-year-old male with a female passenger from Cedarpines Park.
CHP accident investigators determined that the driver of the Subaru crossed over the double yellow lines and collided with the front of the Kia, causing both vehicles to suffer major front-end damage. Loescher, who arrived at the scene of the collision shortly after it occurred, was successful in extricating the driver from the Kia and immediately began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until paramedics arrived and transported the unconscious driver to Desert Valley Hospital, where he subsequently passed away. His female passenger, who sustained minor injuries, was transported to the same hospital.
In the meantime, the driver of the Subaru attempted to flee the scene. Loescher told The Alpine Mountaineer on Feb. 2 that she was able to successfully detain the Subaru driver, who was obviously intoxicated. He was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and taken into custody by law enforcement authorities.
According to a Jan. 30 Cal Fire news release, the Kia burst into flames after Loescher had left the accident scene. The same news release stated, “The State of California takes great pride in presenting the Silver Medal of Valor to Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Communications Operator Barbara Loescher.”
Loescher was awarded her Medal of Valor on Jan. 30 at Cal Fire’s headquarters in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento.
Asked why it took three years for her to receive her Medal of Valor, Loescher speculated that the recent ceremony was delayed by the COVID pandemic. When asked if she had ever experienced anything like this incident before, Loescher responded, “Only on the phone when I was a communications officer. This whole incident has been very hard on me emotionally because my parents were also killed by a drunk driver. I hope the family of the deceased man is doing well.”
Barbara Loescher was recently awarded the State of California’s Silver Medal of Valor. (Cal Fire photo)