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Ventura County Firefighter Killed in Rollover Crash While En Route to Canyon Fire

CHP investigating wreck on Highway 246 at Purisima Road roundabout; somber procession of fire trucks escorts body back home

A Ventura County firefighter died and another was injured when their water tender rolled over early Wednesday on Highway 246 east of Lompoc. Click to view larger
A Ventura County firefighter died and another was injured when their water tender rolled over early Wednesday on Highway 246 east of Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Ventura County fire engineer was killed in a rollover crash near Lompoc early Wednesday while he and a colleague were en route to the Canyon Fire burning on Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Ventura County Fire Engineer Ryan Osler, 38, was an 18-year department veteran. Click to view larger
Ventura County Fire Engineer Ryan Osler, 38, was an 18-year department veteran. (Ventura County Fire Department photo)

At midafternoon, a procession of fire trucks escorted a white hearse carrying the body of the firefighter — Ryan Osler, 38, of Santa Clarita — back to Ventura County. All along the way, fellow firefighters and trucks, their emergency lights flashing, lined overpasses on Highway 101 to pay their respects.

Just before 6:30 a.m., emergency personnel responded to the crash scene on Highway 246 near the Purisima Road roundabout, about 2½ miles east of Lompoc.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, first responders found the Ventura County Fire Department water tender on its passenger side, with one victim trapped inside and another outside the vehicle.

Authorities said Osler, the passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene, at Cebada Canyon west of La Purisima Golf Course.

The truck’s driver, who complained of moderate injuries, was transported by ambulance to the hospital, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

“For reasons we haven’t determined yet ... the driver of the truck lost control coming into the roundabout, and actually hit the roundabout, which caused the truck to overturn,” California Highway Patrol Sgt. Don Clotworthy said.

Foggy conditions were reported in the Lompoc Valley on Wednesday morning, but Clotworthy said the investigation is continuing.

“That is still to be determined whether visibility was an issue,” he said. “We’re looking at all aspects of the collision.”

Zaniboni said the Lompoc Fire Department responded to the crash. Also at the scene, he said, were other Ventura County fire personnel, part of a contingent assigned to the Canyon Fire.

Osler, who worked out of VCFD’​s Moorpark Station 42, had been with the department for 18 years, officials said.

Fellow firefighters from area departments lined Highway 101 overpasses in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria as a procession of Ventura County fire trucks escorted the hearse carrying the body of VCFD Engineer Ryan Osler back home Wednesday afternoon. Click to view larger
Fellow firefighters from area departments lined Highway 101 overpasses in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria as a procession of Ventura County fire trucks escorted the hearse carrying the body of VCFD Engineer Ryan Osler back home Wednesday afternoon. (Ryan Collum / Noozhawk photo)

He began his career in 1998 as a member of the Ventura County fire hand crew and was hired as a trainee firefighter in 2006. After six years of service, he was promoted to the rank of fire engineer.

Osler is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Amanda, 12, and Brandon, 11.

Department liaisons are assisting all family, friends, firefighters and co-workers affected by the tragedy, Ventura County officials said.

“Our collective hearts are broken at the loss of our friend and brother, Ryan,” said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

“We are deeply moved by the outpouring of public support for Ryan and, on behalf of all the men and women of the Ventura County Fire Department, we thank you for your continued prayers.”

Department officials said Osler is the first VCFD firefighter to die in the line of duty since 1991.

California Highway Patrol officers investigate the crash scene at Purisima Road and Highway 246. Click to view larger
California Highway Patrol officers investigate the crash scene at Purisima Road and Highway 246. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

In Ventura County, flags were ordered to half-staff immediately and mourning bands will be worn until further notice, county officials said.

Flags at the state Capitol also will be flown at half-staff, according to a statement from Gov. Jerry Brown’​s office.

“This tragedy reminds us of the dangers firefighters face every day,” Brown said.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and many colleagues who are mourning this loss.”

Funeral arrangements are pending and information will be made available as soon as details are finalized, officials said.

Friends of Osler have established a GoFundMe page to assist his family. Click here to make an online donation.

Clotworthy said a CHP team will perform a crash scene analysis of physical evidence and will inspect the water tender for possible mechanical troubles. The truck’s rear axle separated from the chassis in the crash.

A Ventura County fire engineer died in a rollover crash Wednesday morning at the roundabout at Highway 246 and Purisima Road. Click to view larger
A Ventura County fire engineer died in a rollover crash Wednesday morning at the roundabout at Highway 246 and Purisima Road. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Members of the CHP’​s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team were at the site a few hours after the crash, taking pictures and measurements.

“We’re having everybody who needs to look into this thing to do a complete and thorough investigation to ultimately come up with a determination of how and why this tragic collision occurred,” Clotworthy said.

“It’s sad for all of us in public safety and first responders who wear a uniform,” he added.

“We’re all very sad today, as the community should be as well.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

At the Winchester Canyon overpass, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department engine crew hung an American flag over Highway 101 as a procession passes for a Ventura County firefighter who died in a rollover crash near Lompoc earlier Wednesday. Click to view larger
At the Winchester Canyon overpass, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department engine crew hung an American flag over Highway 101 as a procession passes for a Ventura County firefighter who died in a rollover crash near Lompoc earlier Wednesday. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)
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