Local Cal Fire captain killed in car accident in Merced County

Cal Fire staff at Columbia Air Attack Base built a metal memorial plaque in remembrance of Captain Stacy Hamilton.

Stacy Hamilton, a captain in the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, was killed in an early morning car accident in Merced County on June 8, according to Cal Fire.

Eric Zuniga, a California Highway Patrol officer in Merced, told the Enterprise that Hamilton was traveling southbound alone in his personal vehicle, a 2004 Subaru Outback, when the car left the roadway and overturned on Snelling Road in Merced County.

The crash was reported at 2:20 a.m., and Hamilton was pronounced dead at the scene.

Zuniga said the area around the roadway was mostly flat and “fairly well kept,” and that CHP is still investigating the incident. Drugs and alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

Hamilton began his career with Cal Fire in the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit in 2006, after working for the United States Forest Service (USFS). He was assigned to the Sierra Training Center, Forestry Training Program, where he trained inmates for more than four years before transferring to Columbia Helitack in 2010.

In 2013, Captain Hamilton moved into the fixed wing side and was assigned to Columbia Air Attack Base as an Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) on AA440, where he was most recently assigned.

A 49-year-old resident of Shaver Lake in east Fresno County, Hamilton is survived by his wife, Katie, and two teenage sons, Ian and Logan.

In a phone interview Monday, TCU Chief Josh White emphasized that Hamilton’s death leaves a “huge hole” in the unit, emphasizing his service as an aviation specialist, father and friend.

“It’s hard to put into words,” White said. “His footprint around the state being part of the aviation program for Cal Fire, he had impacts not only operationally, responding to fires throughout state, but also through the training program. Here in the unit, it’s a huge hole. He was just a fun guy. He was incredibly smart, solutions-based, always wanted to make sure that if there was an issue, there could be a solution to it. What an amazing father to two teenage boys. Our TCU family reaches out to the family and wants to provide all the support that they can.”

In a statement issued shortly after Cal Fire’s announcement, Gov. Gavin Newsom offered his condolences to Hamilton’s family.

“On behalf of all Californians, Jennifer (Newsom’s wife) and I extend our condolences to Captain Stacy Hamilton’s family, friends and colleagues in this difficult time,” Newsom said. “It’s the work of brave firefighters like Stacy that keeps our communities safe and we are deeply grateful for his service.”

In honor of Hamilton, Capitol flags were flown at half-staff for the day.

A celebration of life for Fire Captain Hamilton will be held on Monday, June 17 at Clovis Hills Community Church, 10590 N. Willow Avenue in Clovis. The service will begin at 11 a.m.

Uniformed Personnel, Apparatus, and outside agency Honor Guards are to arrive at 9 a.m.

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Reporter

Davis graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies. He covers environmental issues, agriculture, fire and local government. Davis spends his free time playing guitar and hiking with his dog, Penny.

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