CHP Cuffs Firefighter at Crash Scene

On Wednesday, fire chiefs for San Diego and Chula Vista met with CHP for more than an hour.

By Omari Fleming, R. Stickney and Andie Adams
|  Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014  |  Updated 7:45 PM PDT
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A Chula Vista firefighter ended up in handcuffs at the site of a car crash Tuesday night. The California Highway Patrol officer said the fire engine was blocking the road, but the firefighter said it was protecting the crash victims. CHP and Chula Vista Fire met for a discussion on Wednesday. NBC 7’s Omari Fleming has the outcome of that meeting.

A Chula Vista firefighter ended up in handcuffs at the site of a car crash Tuesday night. The California Highway Patrol officer said the fire engine was blocking the road, but the firefighter said it was protecting the crash victims. CHP and Chula Vista Fire met for a discussion on Wednesday. NBC 7’s Omari Fleming has the outcome of that meeting.

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Southern California fire chiefs met with representatives from the California Highway Patrol to iron out what prompted a CHP officer to handcuff a firefighter responding to a highway crash scene.

The CHP officer handcuffed Fire Engineer Jacob Gregoire from Chula Vista Fire Station 2 at the scene of a collision along Interstate 805 Tuesday night, firefighters told NBC 7.

Gregoire had arrived on the scene of a crash involving a driver heading northbound on the highway around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night. The car had crashed into the center divider and rolled through construction, injuring two people.

Firefighters were in the process of looking to see if there were any more patients that needed to be treated, a Chula Vista fire official said, when the CHP officer asked one firefighter to move the fire engine.

At the time, Fire Engine 52 was protecting the back of the ambulance and Gregoire didn't feel that was appropriate, according to Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman.

Watch: Fire Chief Explains Crash Scene Protocol

After the engineer went to ask his captain, the CHP officer called Gregoire over and put him into cuffs, Hanneman said.

He said the CHP has jurisdiction over the interstates and it’s their judgment call. He admitted that the fire department did not have the officer's side of the altercation.

Ninety-nine percent of the time the two organizations work well together, he added. It's the first time this has occurred in Chula Vista.

"Something happened last night that was out of the ordinary or that made this chain of events happen," he said.

On Wednesday, fire chiefs for San Diego and Chula Vista met with CHP for more than an hour.

"We did come out of there with a good mutual understanding that we don't want to have these sorts of situations happen in the future," Hanneman said.

The CHP and Chula Vista Fire chiefs released a joint statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the incident unfortunate and saying it was isolated and not representative of how the two agencies usually work together. 

"Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes," said the statement.

The chiefs said this incident will be the topic of a future joint training session, since there is supposed to be a change of command protocol. The CHP has jurisdiction on freeways, but the firefighters had arrived on scene first.

The CHP closed lanes on the southbound 805 while the car was being towed. The driver and a passenger were transported to the hospital.

Officials say Gregoire is 36 years old and has been with the fire department for more than 12 years. He could still face charges, and the CHP says the case is still under review.

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