Thursday, 29 February 2024

Toney receives Governor's Safety Award

CLEARLAKE OAKS – A longtime Clearlake Oaks resident who works for Caltrans has received a prestigious award for his quick action during a vehicle crash in July of 2008.


Frank Toney was one of 20 Caltrans employees – out of 20,000 statewide – to receive the Governor's Safety Award this month.


This coming February will mark Toney's fourth year with the agency. He is a highway maintenance worker whose duties include traffic control, mowing, paving, plowing snow, picking up dead animals, responding to vehicle wrecks and hazardous materials spills.


He's one of 10 Caltrans workers at the Clearlake Oaks yard; another 10 are based in Lakeport.


Toney, a 35-year Clearlake Oaks resident, received the award for his quick thinking and fast action that he took on July16, 2008.


At the end of the day he'd left the Clearlake Oaks maintenance yard but had to go back.


“I was returning to work because I had forgotten my lunchbox,” he said.


That put him at the scene of a vehicle crash involving a Mediacom truck and a plumbing van. The crash had trapped a 13-year-old boy in the van's front passenger seat.


Toney said he pulled over and spoke to the boy's father, who told him about the child being trapped.


A longtime emergency medical technician, Toney found a crowbar and started prying open the van's back door open.


“The only way to get to him was through the back area,” said Toney.


When he got to the child, who was complaining of abdominal pain, he put a cervical neck brace on him and helped keep him in place until the ambulance arrived.


Toney said a helicopter was needed to transport the child to the hospital.


Rather than landing on the highway and potentially causing a major traffic backup, Toney suggested the helicopter land in the Caltrans yard, and left the boy in the care of a paramedic while he went to move a dump truck to make room for the helicopter. It was the first time Toney remembered the yard being used for a helicopter landing.


“Mr. Toney’s quick actions aided in providing prompt medical evacuation of the injured teenager and prevented closing of Highway 20 during peak vehicular traffic hours,” said the nomination that his supervisor submitted to the state on his behalf.


A few weeks after the crash the boy and his family came to visit with Toney and thank him. The child was doing OK after having sustained a lacerated liver and a concussion.


It was around this past Labor Day that Toney found out he was to receive the award.


Toney said he's especially grateful to his superintendent, Dan Ramirez, and his supervisor, Brennan Ladao, for nominating him.


“I was really excited about going to meet the governor,” he said.


He wouldn't get the chance, because, due to budget cuts the ceremony with the governor was canceled. Instead, a party was planned at the Ukiah maintenance yard, where Caltrans District 1 Director Charles Fielder was scheduled to give him the award.


However, Toney said he wasn't able to attend, because he was on jury duty in a trial lasting three weeks, which ended about two days after the Oct. 6 party.


He said he enjoys his work with Caltrans, noting, “Every day we're doing something different.,” and he gets to work outdoors. “It's an exciting job.”


If he could ask for one thing, it's that people would slow down when they come into Caltrans work zones. Toney said he sees many people drive too fast when Caltrans workers are nearby, making the situation dangerous for workers.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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