Officer Aaron Gulliland has been a California Highway Patrol Officer for 4 years. He began his career in the San Jose CHP Area office and transferred to the Mountain Pass Resident Post in June of 2000. The resident post is located only a few miles from the Nevada state line and part of the Barstow CHP Area. During his time at the resident post, he has proven himself as a loyal and dedicated officer who demonstrates exceptional knowledge of departmental policies and procedures, uses sound judgment, and exhibits excellent professional demeanor.

During the past year, Officer Guilliland has remained a busy and productive officer, but one date certainly stands out. On June 19, 2002, he had completed his work shift in the Barstow Area and was returning home on Northbound Interstate 15. As he approached the Afton Canyon Road exit, he observed a Southbound vehicle pulling a travel trailer overturn. He notified Barstow Communications Center and responded to the scene. Upon his arrival, he noticied that the vehicle was lying on its right side with the front end hanging precariously over an embankment. The vehicle was on fire and the occupants needed assistance to escape.

As Officer Gilliland was running toward the burning vehicle, he observed the male driver on top of the vehicle attempting to pull the other passenger out. The female passenger's foot was stuck and the driver was unable to free her. Officer Gilliland assisted the 66 year old driver to the ground and returned to assist the passenger. When he returned, the fire had spread to the passenger compartment. As he attempted to free her, the fire spread all the way to where he was standing. With flames scorching his uniform and singeing his hair, Officer Gilliland reached into the burning vehicle to free the passenger's leg. He freed the leg, put his arms around the victims torso, and pulled her away from the vehicle. Their momentum caused them to fall from the burning vehicle and down the embankment, where the passenger fell on top of Officer Gilliland. Within seconds of his heroic actions, the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.

As a result of the rescue, Officer Gilliland suffered smoke inhalation and a broken back. He is still off work as a result of his actions on that day and hopes to return to work in the near future. After the conclusion of the incident, the driver, Lawrence Ortolani, and his wife Meridel, informed the on duty Sergeant Stan Clair that Officer Gilliland had definitely saved their lives.

Officer Gilliland leads by example. He is looked up to by fellow officers for his bravery and his willingness to help. That is why he has beeen selected by his peers as Barstow Area CHP Officer of the Year.

by Matt Hunt, PAO