Los Padres National Forest fire chief killed returning home from Railroad Fire
Gary Helming was stationed in Santa Maria
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - [Update 9:35 p.m.]Gary Helming has been identified as the man killed in a crash on State Route 41 in Kings County.
A press release from California Highway Patrol incorrectly listed the victim as a 47-year-old female.
Helming was traveling on State Route 41 when his vehicle was struck by a Ford F-350 that suffered a tire failure. Helming had no time to react and avoid the crash.
For more information about the circumstances of the fatal crash, click here.
Los Padres National Forest officials announced the untimely death of one of their own--Santa Lucia District Battalion Chief Gary Helming.
Helming was killed in a car crash early Thursday morning while returning home from a fire assignment on the Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest, according to Los Padres Forest officials.
Helming was stationed in Santa Maria. He was born in El Cajon, California and began working for the Forest Service over two decades ago as a seasonal firefighter.
"Our hearts go out to Gary's family, the Forest Service and the wildland fire community – he exemplified the highest standards of honor and professionalism," said Los Padres Deputy Forest Supervisor Ken Heffner. "Gary was a tremendous leader, partner and thoughtful person who engaged with everyone. He will be greatly missed."
Helming is survived by his wife, three children, and their family.
We will update this story when new information becomes available.