A heart for the community: Nevada City Police Det. Ellis honored at annual Red Light Ball | TheUnion.com

A heart for the community: Nevada City Police Det. Ellis honored at annual Red Light Ball

Nevada City Police Det. Chad Ellis says he was just "in the right place at the right time."

And as he was being honored by the Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council Saturday night for saving the life of a motorcyclist involved in a crash, he insisted that everyone he works with in the law enforcement community would have done the same thing.

"My heart is — I am absolutely blessed to work in a community like Nevada County," Ellis said to those gathered at the council's annual Red Light Ball to honor him.

His award was presented by Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster, who has been able to employ Ellis as a shared detective through a collaboration with Nevada City.

The Red Light Ball each year recognizes a member of the law enforcement or fire protection community who has "demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, character, bravery and service."

The ball also serves as the major fundraiser each year for the organization, which has contributed more than $680,000 to various agencies in the community since 2001.

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Ellis was off-duty and driving home in a department-issued car on Highway 49, at approximately 5:30 p.m. on April 10, 2014, when he saw a disabled motorist at the intersection of Lime Kiln Road. A CHP officer arrived on the scene to help and they both got the disabled vehicle off the side of the road.

Both officers were waiting for a green light to leave, when they saw a motorcycle drive by at a really high rate of speed. The motorcyclist initially pulled over, then tried to do a 180 across Highway 49 to go northbound and was T-boned by a full-size truck. He was ejected quite a distance and the cycle was instantly engulfed in flames.

The two officers closed the highway in both directions and Ellis then went to the motorcyclist, who was just coming to. His left leg was partially amputated and he was bleeding heavily. But Ellis recently had trained with Nevada County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Stanley on using tourniquets and retrieved one from his vehicle, assisting the EMTs in getting it into place. Ellis was nominated by Nevada County Consolidated Fire Chief Jim Turner, who said that the motorcyclist would have died without his rapid intervention.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.