An early morning wreck claimed the life of a Cottonwood firefighter this morning. Capt. Mark Ratledge, 35, of Cottonwood was struck and killed this morning during an early morning accident on southbound Interstate 5 near the Shasta Livestock Auction Yard.
“There were three separate collisions,” said CHP spokesman Mel Hutsell of the California Highway Patrol.
Originally, there was a solo spin out which both CHP and the Cottonwood Fire Protection District (CFPD) responded to.
“A hail storm had come through,” said Hutsell.
According to a passing motorist, the blacktop was completely white, although Officer Hutsell reported the number two and three lanes had just been plowed. Still, those road conditions made driving difficult and caused a second vehicle to lose control. After that second spin out, the driver of a black 2003 Chevy S10, Jered Shaun Shumaker, 31, of Redding, tried to avoid running into yet another vehicle that had lost control.
“He (Shumaker) rotated in a southwest direction and passed between (a parked CHP vehicle and the fire truck),” said Hutsell. Three people were standing nearby, a CHP officer, a firefighter and one of the passengers of an earlier wrecked vehicle, reports Hutsell
“All were struck,” said Hutsell. “The CHP officer suffered minor injuries.”
All three victims were transported to Mercy Hospital where the Cottonwood firefighter was later pronounced dead. All three lanes of Interstate were closed, although CHP hopes to have one lane re-opened shortly, Hutsell said. Traffic is being diverted down Main street and Rhonda Rd.