Ventura County Search and Rescue Team Member Killed in 5 Freeway Crash in Castaic Area

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A volunteer with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team was killed in a crash on the northbound 5 Freeway in the Castaic area, and several other people were injured.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Fillmore Search and Rescue team member Jeff Dye was helping people who had been involved in a collision when another vehicle fatally struck him.

The California Highway Patrol said it started receiving calls around 7:15 a.m. about a Nissan Murano that had rolled over at the center divider just south of Vista Del Lago. CHP said the vehicle only had one occupant, 63-year-old Rito Ruiz of Canoga Park.

The Search and Rescue team was on its way to a training exercise when they stopped to help out the driver.  As L.A. County Fire Department personnel rendered aid to Ruiz, a Ford Expedition heading north hit the Fire Department truck and the Search and Rescue crew.

Ruiz sustained major injuries and was taken to the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Santa Clarita, according to CHP.

The agency identified the driver of the Expedition as 42-year-old Oscar Rodriguez of Los Angeles. He was not hurt in the incident, CHP said.

Officials initially said during the stop, a minivan with a family on board lost control and slammed into the crash scene about 30 minutes later.

Three other members of the Search and Rescue team were injured—two who remained in critical condition and another who has been discharged from the hospital, the agency said.

A Los Angeles County firefighter was also hospitalized with unknown injuries.

A total of nine people were taken to local hospitals, officials said.

“What we want to get out to the public here is when we’re in inclement weather like this, serious weather conditions, it’s critical that when people drive by accident scenes on the side of the freeway, that they slow down,” Cpt. Tony Imbrenda with the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. “We have a situation here that could’ve been prevented.”

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