Cottonwood Fire Protection District Volunteer Captain Mark Ratledge, 35, died February 29, 2012 when a vehicle lost control and struck him on the side of hail-covered Interstate 5.
A California Highway Patrol officer and civilian were also injured after being hit by the pickup that slid off the freeway. The Fire Department and CHP were waiting for tow trucks on the scene of a previous accident that had been stabilized. The CHP officer and civilian from the previous accident scene sustained moderate injuries and were transported by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Redding. A second Cottonwood firefighter at the scene was able to avoid the out of control vehicle and was uninjured.
Ratledge was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Redding where he succumbed to his injuries. Captain Ratledge is the first Cottonwood Firefighter to be killed in the line of duty. He was a nine-year veteran of the department who started as a volunteer in 2003 and was promoted to captain in 2008. He also served as the training officer for the department.
Mark lived in Cottonwood with his fiancé, Jennifer Hobbs, 38; daughter Sophia, 1; stepdaughter Hannah Jasperse, 17; and stepson Conner Hobbs, 10.