The after-effects of the multi-vehicle crash that killed four and injured 15 on Aug. 11, 2010 are still being felt. But now, much deserved honors are being bestowed upon an Inyo County sheriff’s deputy for what many are calling courageous and heroic actions.
Shane Scott, recently promoted to investigator, was reportedly the first responder on the scene of the accident, and with little regard for his own safety, entered a burning vehicle to save the life of a 22-year-old college student, Drew Constantine Delis.
Scott will receive the prestigious Sheriff’s Medal of Valor and the Sheriff’s Life Saving Award at 10 a.m., Thursday June 16 at the Independence Sheriff’s Office. Scott received the Medal of Valor award from the California Peace Officer’s Association on May 27 in San Diego.
“He blatantly disregarded his own safety and went above and beyond the call of duty to save the life of a young man,” said Undersheriff Keith Hardcastle.
“Shane put his life in imminent danger,” said Lieutenant Randy Geiger. “He was put to the test that day, and he stepped up to the challenge.”
At approximately 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11, 2010, three vans full of students of the California Baptist University cross-country team were on their way to Mammoth, about five miles south of Bishop on U.S. 395. At the same time, an SUV with five occupants, mostly seniors or recent graduates of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego – were returning from high-altitude training in Mammoth.
The formal accident report has yet to be released, but preliminary investigation has revealed that the SUV, for an unknown reason, verged through the deep median, caught fire and went head-on into one of the vans. Three victims were pronounced dead on the scene and a fourth victim, Coach John Nathan Adams, was taken off life-support on Oct. 9. There were 16 injured that night, including Adams.
According to the California Highway Patrol press release from August 2010, Scott was the first officer on scene after he noticed a fire in his rearview mirror. Scott went directly to the burning SUV and, “without regard for his own safety,” pulled a male adult from the vehicle. He then went back to rescue a second occupant who was screaming for help.
Scott tried to pull a second victim from the vehicle, but the intense heat of the fire was too much for him. “While attempting these rescues a third occupant who had been on fire and ejected from the SUV walked past Scott and expired in the number one lane,” the press release states.
Geiger said Scott made “extremely decisive decisions” and in a nanosecond – “never hesitating.” After arriving on the scene, Scott knew what had to be done to save lives, Geiger said.
“Most people never have to make these kind of decisions,” Geiger said. He added that Scott’s actions are “typical of sheriff employees.” He said all local sheriff’s deputies, of high caliber to begin with, receive excellent training.
He added that Scott’s actions that night are a “true reflection of his character.”
Scott is very goal and family oriented, Geiger said. Scott started with the Inyo Sheriff’s Department in October 2003 as a correctional officer, moving up to a deputy’s position in 2005. In 2005, Scott was promoted to field training officer, then corporal and recently to investigator. Geiger said his quick rise in the ranks is also a testament to Scott’s goal oriented character.
Scott is one of a very select few to be awarded the Sheriff’s Medal of Valor. According to Geiger, Lieutenant Steve Rodgers and Sergeant Mike Nicholas were awarded the medal following a shooting at Inyo County Jail in 1984.
“On behalf of myself and the members of the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, we are extremely proud of Investigator Scott,” Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze said in a press release. “And I am honored to present him with an award that memorializes his heroic actions.”
The award ceremony will be at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 16 at the Independence Sheriff’s Office. Due to the ceremony the office will be closed, except for emergencies, from 8 a.m.-noon that day.