A Cal Poly alumnus who volunteered on a local search and rescue team died Sunday while responding to an emergency call at the Oceano Dunes.
Christopher Meadows, 24, was leading an ambulance over a sand-dune when his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) flipped and landed on him. An ambulance following in close succession was unable to stop in time and struck Meadows as well.
Meadows, who graduated from Cal Poly in 2007 with a degree in business administration, was pronounced dead a little after 4 p.m. Meadows was a San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department search and rescue volunteer.
“I want to express my heartfelt sympathy and gratitude to family of our deceased search and rescue member who gave his life today to try and help someone in trouble,” San Luis Obispo Sheriff Pat Hedges said in a statement. “I also want to acknowledge the pain this must be causing the ambulance staff who immediately tried to save their brother’s life at the scene.”
Conditions of the dune had changed since the last time the team went out there, according to Rob Bryn, a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. The four-wheel drive ATV went nose-in to a trough of sand at the bottom of a dune, flipped and landed on top of Meadows, inflicting seriously bodily injury. The other ATV pulled off because the driver didn’t see Meadows fall out.
The four-wheel drive ambulance, however, reportedly crested the dune and continued to go towards Meadows. Due to the size and weight of the vehicle, it was unable to stop in time and struck him. The ambulance crew immediately attempted to save Meadows’ life but were unsuccessful.
The autopsy was performed yesterday and authorities are still awaiting results. Bryn said it is do not believe that the second collision with the ambulance was the fatal one of the two.
Meadows is fondly remembered by his classmates as polite person who was always willing to help those in need. He was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity at Cal Poly.
“He always just had things done, you didn’t even have to ask him to contribute his time,” former Cal Poly and Delta Sigma Pi alumnus Eric Hubbs said. “You just relied on Chris, there was no asking, there was no expectations, you just knew he would be there for you … anything, he was there.”
Meadows was respected by his peers during at his time at Cal Poly. According to his friends he was non-judgmental and always available for advice .
“He was very giving and was always willing to help everybody … a very considerate person,” senior agricultural business Brandon Styles said. “(He was) always a very positive person to be around.”
Meadows had been a search and rescue volunteer for a year and had just finished his training a week earlier. He was soon going to be promoted to medical team leader.
“He could have gone into finance or accounting or marketing or anything that he wanted to … but his junior year he took an EMT class and he loved it.” Hubbs said. “He just loved what he was doing.”
Funeral services will take place at 1 p.m. on Monday in San Jose.