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Alcohol a Factor in Death of Off-Duty USFS firefighter “Hotshot”

A tragic accident resulted in the death of an off-duty US Forest Service firefighter with the “Hotshots” crew stationed in the Marysville area on Saturday.

At approximately 1:10 AM on Saturday morning, 26 year old Andrew Gruenberg was driving a 2002 Hyundai Accent sedan westbound on Marysville Rd in Yuba County, west of Old Toll Rd. He was transporting 6 others, Gruenberg and all of his passengers are Hot Shot firefighters who were leaving an event on their way back to their quarters. 

An unrelated vehicle was traveling eastbound toward Gruenberg when that driver observed a pedestrian lying down in the westbound (opposite) lane of the roadway. The driver came to a stop and, observing Gruenberg’s oncoming vehicle, began flashing his high-beam headlights to signal Gruenberg of the hazard in the roadway ahead. Gruenberg failed to stop and ran over the pedestrian.

Gruenberg reportedly believed he had run over an animal in the roadway and he continued on toward his destination. A passenger in his vehicle called 911 to report the collision and the hazard in the roadway. After they arrived at their destination approximately two miles away, two of the passengers got into another vehicle and returned to the scene to investigate. Emergency personnel were also at the scene and determined Gruenberg had run over the pedestrian.

The pedestrian lying in the roadway was later determined to be Michael (Mike) Kelly, II. also a Hot Shot with the Forest Service. He had sustained major blunt-force trauma to the head and torso. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Grass Valley CHP Officer Greg Tassone explains CHP is handling the ongoing investigation and all involved parties are cooperating. Alcohol appears to be a factor in the collision.

Hot Shot Fatality

At the present time, no arrests have been made, pending toxicology results and further examinations.

Officer Tassone says they are trying to determine some other factors in the accident.

            Hot Shot Fatality

The westbound lane of Marysville Rd was blocked by emergency personnel for approximately 5 hours while the investigation continued.

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