Collision claims the lives of Sac State student and 20-year-old passenger

Amanda Pollard

A fire truck responding to an emergency call crashed into a vehicle and claimed the lives of two students early Saturday morning.

Kirsten Ross, a 20-year-old Sacramento State student, was traveling westbound on L Street with 20-year-old Nancy Gonzalez of Roseville when she allegedly failed to stop at a flashing red light at the intersection of 9th and L Streets, said Public Information Officer for the Sacramento Fire Department Jim Doucette.

A fire engine responding to a residential fire was traveling southbound on 9th Street with its lights and sirens on when it ran through a flashing yellow light and struck the vehicle Ross and Gonzalez were in, Doucette said.

The engine was traveling from Station 2 at 12th and I Streets when it hit the vehicle, and another truck was dispatched in its place, Doucette said.

Doucette said it is too early to tell who is at fault in the accident.

“I think from the facts we have seen so far, our guys had a flashing yellow light, the two girls had a flashing red light, and it seems pretty obvious the girls ran the red light,” Doucette said. “We had our lights and sirens on.”

Matt Young, public information officer for the Sacramento Police Department, confirmed the details of the accident.

Young said the accident occurred around 2 or 3 a.m. Saturday.

A flashing red light requires cars to come to a complete stop before proceeding, and a flashing yellow light requires them to yield or slow down at the intersection.

Once the car was struck, Doucette said the four firemen in the engine immediately administered help to the victims.

“They attempted to extricate the passenger, but once it was determined that she was dead, they got the driver out and put her in one of our ambulances,” Doucette said.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office has not released the cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled and will be released to the public once it is completed.

According to the coroner’s office Ross was transported to UC Davis Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the autopsy, it is routine that a toxicology report be completed in motor vehicle accidents.

Young said alcohol was found in the vehicle and may have been a factor, but due to the nature of the accident, it is too early to conclude anything.

“It’s a very serious investigation and we are going to take our time with it,” Young said.

Lt. Dan Davis of University Police said the Sacramento Police Department contacted them on Saturday to confirm Ross’ status as a Sac State student.

“They found a (Sac State) parking permit in her car, so they called to confirm she was a student here,” Davis said.

According to Doucette, the Sacramento Fire Department is the first in the nation to implement an Emergency Vehicle Operating Course, which educates and tests firemen on driving proficiency.

“We are very proactive in that way,” Doucette said. “But from what I witnessed, their driving really didn’t matter in this case.”

The four firemen who were involved in the accident could not be named at this time, but Doucette said they are all experiencing grief.

“It’s a horrible thing they went through. We’re not trying to take anything away from the families, but the driver is having a hard time,” Doucette said.

The driver of the vehicle will be taking time off, but Doucette said the department will be doing everything they can to get him back to work.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with these two girls’ friends and families and the firefighters involved. This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Doucette said. “I would tell you, I’d give anything to not have had to respond to that call.”

Amanda Pollard can be reached at [email protected].