On Friday, July 22, 2012, at 9:15PM, California Highway Patrol Officers responded to a report of a single vehicle crash on South Mountain Lookout Road near Coyote Canyon Road.
Christopher Blankenship, a 44-year-old Santa Paula volunteer reserve police officer, apparently lost control of his 1984 Jeep Wrangler and crashed while driving eastbound on South Mountain Lookout Road.
One passenger, 33-year-old Kimberly Hemmer of Oxnard, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Hemmer was a five-year veteran of the Santa Paula Police department. Two other female passengers suffered minor injuries in the crash.
Nobody in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt. Police noted that although seatbelts save lives, people are not required to use them on private roads.
Blankenship, who was not hurt in the crash, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter and booked at the Ventura County Jail. He was released from jail on Monday, June 23, 2012 on $50,000 bail.
Blankenship has been a part-time volunteer reserve officer with the Santa Paula Police Department for more than 10 years. He is now on administrative leave.
According to Santa Paula interim Police Chief Ish Cordero, Kimberly Hemmer was a patrol officer as well as a member of the Ventura County mounted unit. She received commendations for her work in Santa Paula. “She was a well-liked person, very professional,” and always was lending a hand, he said.
The Santa Paula car accident lawyers at Russell & Lazarus are following this case closely. The entire law firm is saddened to learn of the death of Officer Hemmer; we extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends.