The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office was called for assistance in searching for the missing firefighter. With the leadership of Undersheriff Ken Richardson, search and rescue personnel started the initial search at approximately 8 p.m., July 30. The initial search effort continued until about midnight when it was halted because of hazardous fire conditions. Efforts began again at 6 a.m., July 31 and the victim’s body was discovered at 9:17 a.m. Preliminary investigation indicated the body was that of missing firefighter David Ruhl.
One of the next steps in the investigation process is for the Coroner’s Office to conduct an autopsy to determine the nature of the death. The autopsy is scheduled for early next week. As part of the autopsy process, laboratory tests will need to be conducted. The tests may take up to five weeks for completion.
Another key step in the process is to determine how the fatality occurred and what lessons can be learned to prevent future occurrences. The circumstances of that evening leading to Dave’s unfortunate and untimely death will be identified through a thorough review process.
“Speculating as to the circumstances surrounding David's death is unproductive. We owe it to the family and the community of firefighters to fully and factually understand the circumstances of his death through a proper review by skilled professionals,” stated Modoc Forest Supervisor Amanda McAdams. “We are anxious to know more, but need to allow time for the proper review to take place. The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office and the Modoc National Forest have a very good working relationship and are closely coordinating efforts as a team.
The U.S. Forest Service is using a tool known as a Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) to review and learn from tragic events. It is a tool the Forest Service uses to ensure that we learn everything possible from serious incidents to reduce the chances of recurrence while lessening the accident’s painful effects on others. The CRP includes a Learning Review. The Learning Review (LR) is a phased approach designed to help thoroughly study the accident with the focus on helping prevent future accidents
A Forest Service CRP team has been assigned to the Frog Fire fatality. The team is comprised of staff with technical expertise in specialty areas such as: fire management, fire behavior, proper protective equipment, law enforcement, human factors/performance. Additional specialists and subject matter experts may be called once the team is in place to provide additional support. The CRP process will startAugust 3, 2015. When completed the final report will be available to the public.