A portion of Highway 41 is now dedicated to a Los Padres National Forest Service Battalion Chief who died in a crash on the same stretch of road in 2017.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department, CAL FIRE and Los Padres National Forest Service were among those who attended the dedication Sunday in Kings County for Gary Helming, who was killed in a head-on crash east of Paso Robles on Aug. 31, 2017. At the time, he was headed back to the Central Coast after battling a fire near the Sierra National Forest.
Organizers say the sign unveiling was done by Helming’s 14-year-old son, Riley. Helming's mother also spoke.
At the accident site, a smoke ring was made by a lead air attack plane out of Paso Robles.
“Today we gathered to celebrate the designation and pay tribute to BC 31,” the Los Padres National Forest posted on social media, adding the Gary Helming Memorial Highway is “in honor of our fallen friend and colleague.”
Helming, 47, and a father of three from Shell Beach, was a 22-year U.S. Forest Service veteran and battalion chief for the Santa Lucia District.