A 23-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident and UCLA graduate was killed early Sunday morning when the ambulance in which he was riding crashed head-on into the base pole of a freeway sign over the 10 West, just east of Fourth Street in Ontario.
California Highway Patrol officers told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Doug Odgers was riding in a passenger seat near the front of the ambulance without his seatbelt on; 25-year-old paramedic Grelli Ugarte was driving. There was no patient in the ambulance at the time.
Odgers' last Facebook post, baseball-related, was at 7:30 p.m. the night before his death.
On February 24, he wrote, “Got my medic job. STOKED!!!!!!”
The emergency vehicle belonged to Pacific Bowers Ambulance. The company's vice president, Paul Scarborough, says Odgers and Ugarte were returning to headquarters after a patient transport during their 12-hour shifts (he declines to say exactly when) at the time of the crash.
Scarborough posted the following tribute on the company's home page:
“Doug graduated from Norco High School where he enjoyed playing football and baseball. Fatefully, Doug's sister had died years ago in an automobile accident which prompted him to become an EMT. Doug worked several years for Care Ambulance (an Orange County based provider) before graduating paramedic school at Daniel Freeman College and joining the Bowers team as a paramedic. When asked during his interview why he chose to be a Paramedic, Doug shared the sad loss of his sister who died in an automobile accident and his desire to help others following her untimely passing. Doug was a top notch Paramedic and a great human being. Doug was liked by all and truly an asset to Bowers Ambulance.”
A Long Beach man named Christopher Duong tagged Odgers in the following Facebook post last night:
“RIP Doug Odgers. i am honored to have known you as a friend and someone who ive battle with on the baseball diamond. ill never forget that baseball tourney vegas trip…partying and getting drunk, but we still managed to play hungover…great times that will never be forgotten. if i ever pitch a no-hitter or a perfect game, its dedicated to you doug…ill never forget you bro”
CHP investigators are currently looking into why, exactly, the 2007 Ford ambulance crashed, as it was reportedly traveling the speed limit in light traffic conditions.
The department's initial statement reads: “For unknown reasons, the ambulance … collided with a wood/metal guardrail located north of the north roadway edge. The ambulance traveled out of control and subsequently struck a large freeway overhead-sign support pole.”
The Press-Enterprise reports that Odgers was pronounced dead at 9:07 a.m. at San Antonio Community Hospital. Scarborough adds that his family was at his side.
Did you know Doug, or witness the accident? Let us know.