In the spotlight: Nevada City Police detective to be honored at Red Light Ball | TheUnion.com

In the spotlight: Nevada City Police detective to be honored at Red Light Ball

Nevada City Police Det. Chad Ellis is being honored at this year's Red Light Ball for saving the life of a motorcyclist who tried to flee from a traffic stop and then collided with a truck.

But for Ellis, what is really important is not the recognition — but the fact that his actions changed the course of events for the better.

"To be involved in that situation was incredible because (the reason) we get into this line of work is to help people," he said. "So to be in the right place to be able to do that is a really good feeling."

The Red Light Ball honors 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 Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council. This year, it will take place on Saturday, Feb. 21, and is already sold out.

“To be involved in that situation was incredible because (the reason) we get into this line of work is to help people. So to be in the right place to be able to do that is a really good feeling.”Chad EllisNevada City Police Detective

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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.

"I was crossing 49 at Lime Kiln, and that intersection is so dangerous," Ellis said. "I flipped my car around and hit my lights."

A CHP officer arrived on the scene to help and they both got the disabled vehicle off the side of the road, he said.

Ellis then turned around and was waiting for the green light to leave, with the CHP officer behind him, when they saw the motorcycle "fly by" southbound on the highway.

"It was going at a really high rate of speed," he said.

Ellis said he watched the CHP officer go after the motorcycle, as he was a few vehicles back.

"I could see (the motorcyclist) yield to the right side, and I saw the CHP officer open his door," he said. "Then the motorcyclist tries to do a 180 across 49 to go northbound and just as he does, he gets T-boned by a full-size truck. He gets ejected quite a distance and the cycle was instantly engulfed in flames."

The two officers closed the highway in both directions and requested an immediate medical response. According to Ellis, it was fortunate that an ambulance had just left Cherry Creek Road on a medical call so that it was on site in less than a minute.

Ellis then went to the motorcyclist, who was just coming to and breathing only shallowly. His left leg was partially amputated, Ellis said, barely held on by muscle and ligaments, and he was bleeding heavily.

In another fortunate turn of events, Ellis recently had trained with Nevada County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Stanley, who is also a paramedic, on using tourniquets.

"We had purchased tourniquets and I keep them in my kit at all times," he said, adding that he retrieved one from his car and assisted the EMTs in getting it into place.

"That chain of events, it all worked out the way that it should," Ellis said.

The victim was then readied for transport to a medical facility.

According to the Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council, Nevada County Consolidated Fire Chief James Turner said that "without the rapid intervention" by Ellis, the victim "would have succumbed to his injuries."

For his actions in this incident, the council chose to recognize Ellis as the 2014 recipient of the Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council's Public Safety Commitment Award.

The Red Light Ball will take place at the Alta Sierra Country Club at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21. There will be a short program at 7:20 p.m., which will honor Ellis. The program also honors local law and fire agencies, military and veterans. Following the program, there will be a prime rib dinner, and music will be provided by SoLS.

The Nevada County Law Enforcement and Fire Protection Council is a community-based 501c(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1998. The council has no paid employees and is all volunteer. It relies wholly on donations to provide support and assistance to public law enforcement and fire protection agencies located in Nevada County by making contributions to these agencies in the form of better equipment and in support and furtherance of their programs and policies. Since 2001, the council, through its fundraising efforts, has contributed more than $680,000 to various agencies in the community.

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